#@&%* Deer!

They’re just voracious overgrown rabbits, that’s all they are!  And just because they are more slender, graceful and beautiful than me doesn’t mean I have to like them.  Sure, Bambi is cute, but he’s a CARTOON! And Bambi had the good sense to stay in his forest, or the meadow, not trespassing on people’s gardens.

photo credit Jason Wood Images

It’s probably a good thing I don’t own a gun, because I’ve about had it with my neighborhood deer.  When I moved here I knew full well that there were plenty of them about, almost every time we visited the empty lot while we waited for a builder to start our home we encountered deer, if not on our lot, very close by.  The bear scat was pretty exciting too!

I made sure to budget for fence construction, and we had our large back yard fully fenced before moving into the house.  So my veggie garden, fruits and plenty of tasty ornamentals are thriving in a deer-free zone.  I thought, with my experience and knowledge about the grazing habits of my furry friends that I would be able to create a lovely front yard using deer resistant plants. Notice I said deer resistant, I’m not naïve enough to think that anything is deer-proof, but there are quite a few plants that have proven unpalatable to deer, most of the time.

Unfortunately, nobody gave the list to my local deer families!  Seriously, I think we are so overpopulated with deer that competition for food is fierce, and they are completely aware that suburbia can also be spelled b-u-f-f-e-t.  I can put up with a nibble here and there, but these brats are chowing down on plants that they walked right past before.

The summer heather are not so tasty, I guess!

Like heather.  I was inspired by a lovely planting in front of a local seniors centre to put a swath of heather in the garden between my driveway and the neighbours, close to the road.  It’s very sunny and I wanted something colourful all year but relatively low maintenance.  Of course I also expected they’d be safe from the four-legged vultures, but apparently not.  Over the winter they’ve decided that heather is tasty.  But heather is tough, dry and prickly, who would want to eat that?

Poor little tortured thing, can you see the hoofprints?

I discovered the damage when I walked across the road to collect the mail a few days ago.  Something looked odd.  Most of my winter heather (Erica) seemed to have lost their flower buds.  As they were just starting to colour up this was quite disappointing.  They look rather like they’ve been pruned, I thought, but who would do that?  The summer heather (Calluna) looked fine; they were still holding their now faded blooms in erect spikes, but what happened to the others?

I puzzled a minute, and then it dawned on me.  @#%$& DEER!  I guess the plump, just about to open flowers were moist and tasty enough to make a snack of.  So much for my winter colour, there are precious few buds still tucked into the depths of each shorn little winter blooming heather.  The callunas, with their tough, dried up blossoms have been spared, for now…

I might be planting more summer heather

So that’s my rant!  Next time I will show you the success stories in my new garden; plants in the front garden that the deer AREN’T eating.

They don't eat snowdrops!


About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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15 Responses to #@&%* Deer!

  1. anglogermantranslations says:

    Did you say overgrown rabbit? Did you mean it? Here’s a specimen for you:

  2. I feel your pain girl…I really do…I have absolutely NOTHING in my yard that they are eating right now, but they are trampling stuff looking…grrrr….

  3. Yowza. I don’t live in a deer infested neighborhood, since mine is an urban area. However, when my husband and I drive into the hinterlands of NJ, looking at houses, neighborhoods, and the like, we see deer. Lots of them. And I’ve chatted with gardeners in “deerland”. It didn’t sound pretty. Much of what I gathered was similar to your experience — deer will avoid plants they dislike unless and until their regular food sources are compromised, then all bets are off.

    So very sorry! As a gardener it must suck to see your lovely plants, their blooms anticipated, ravaged. Not being able to garden these days, I have been able to develop a sympathetic feeling for the deer’s side of things. Survival. Ain’t it amazing? The urge to survive trumps just about everything else.

    And so, my dear gardener, whose backyard picures are inspiring to me, and whose front yard is a bit worse for wear, you have the pluses and minuses of being an active gardener, and for that, perhaps you are both thankful and pissed — but at least you HAVE a garden! Remember those of us who yearn to garden who don’t have anywhere to do so.

  4. Margie says:

    We have a problem with White Tail Deer, and are using this multi-pronged approach:

  5. Slowvelder says:

    For this very reason I have left my yard as natural bush – the buck still eat it but it doesnt look too bad. For my fruit and veggies – that has to be under shadecloth and closed in tight. My main problem though are baboons because they can break into veggie gardens and shade cloth areas. Must be so frustrating for you!

  6. Your snow-drops are gorgeous. The Brisbane (Aus) deer aren’t native but also very annoying. Rumour is the ex-wife of the man who bred them in captivity let them out in anger and now they are breeding. It’s just wrong seeing deer in the suburbs of a humid city where it rarely gets below 60F.

  7. I thought I had problems with salt air! I will stop moaning…

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