variegated yucca browsed by deer, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest

Hungry Deer

It wasn’t unusually cold but this must’ve been a looooong winter for our local deer. They’re feeding on things they don’t even like.

species tulips - browsed by deer,
photo by SVSeekins

Gardeners know that deer like tulips.  But the smaller species tulips have always been safe.  Not this year.  Check this out: in a plot of a dozen botanical tulips- only 4 blooms survive.  It looks like a deer snacked on leaves, then came back a few days later to taste-test the flowers. The flavour must be pretty bad because someone didn’t clean his plate.

laurel browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Each winter the deer get hungry enough to nibble on some of the broad-leaved evergreens. This laurel has never been chewed down like this before.  There’s a toxin in laurels, so deer avoid it most of the time.  I’ll bet this browsing session caused indigestion!

variegated yucca browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Even variegated yucca is looking tattered & much worse for wear.  In our garden, the deer always take the bloom before it opens, but the leaves – – they’re so sharp  & tough & stringy!!  Good grief.  Aside from the toxicity factor, how is it even palatable?

I’ll bet the herd is glad the spring growth is on its way.

But then again…
Even in the growing season, the deer on Mt. Tolmie have taken to eating Lily of the Valley.  They never used to do that.

Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza,Polypodium occidentale, Polypodium vulgare subsp. occidentale, many footed fern, sweet root, , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

We used to have lush licorice fern in the yard.  Now it’s barely holding on.

There must be some other reason than the scarcity of winter.  I reckon it’s because our urban herd is growing, as is human density.  This dynamic presents some challenges:

  • Housing is taking up a higher percentage of space in a city lot.
  • In turn, that increased housing is reducing the size & number of gardens.
  • There are more & more urban deer – – grazing on fewer & smaller gardens.
  • The deer are getting hungry.

I’ve improved some of the caging around our garden beds.  I’m not much of a fan of that look, but it’s better than naked shrubs & dead perennials.  It’s getting more difficult to decide which plantings to leave exposed.
I still enjoy seeing wildlife in our neighbourhood.
We’re both caught between a rock & a hard place.





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