Saturday, August 22, 2020


     I had an increased amount of deer damage this year.  My assumption was the deer preferred our landscapes to the tinder dry native shrubs and trees.  In April I decided to do a  study and compile a list of deer-resistant annual flowers.

I referenced existing lists from reliable non-commercial sources and pulled 17 varieties that I knew grows well in Central Oregon.  I started 6 varieties in my greenhouse, purchased 3 and relied on finding the remaining 8 at local nurseries.  I became very familiar with "Sorry, all sold out".

The original list of 17 included calendula, Dusty Miller, larkspur, lobelia, wax begonia, annual poppy, impatiens, statice, annual geraniums, sweet alyssum, snapdragon, petunia, nasturtium, signet marigold, heliotrope, cosmos, and ageratum.

I seeded calendula, lobelia. 2varieties of sweet alyssum, 2 varieties of snapdragon.2 varieties of nasturtium and cosmos.  I purchased the Dusty Miller, impatiens and petunias.  As the varieties became of age to leave the greenhouse, I planted them in raised wood planting boxes.  No need in going into the first few  days of anxiety.

Bambi and mom did several weeks of taste testing.  I was tempted to do some covering but gritted my teeth with hopes they would find a tastier menu down the road.  The exclusion of covering would have defeated my goal  There may have been some additional help in the taste testing as I found evidence of animal frass I wasn't familiar with.  The neighborhood (one block from the busy 27th Street)  had sightings of a fox, rock chuck, racoon, plus a skunk. Take your pick!

A quick progress report:

Lobelia which I have planted every year for over 25 years suffered the most in the beginning being nibbled almost to the ground every night--new growth during the day, gone by morning.  Never had that much trouble in years past.

Impatiens: purchased, continued nibbling except for a strong fuchsia color which they step over to get to the orange.  Go figure.

Calendula: continually nipped early, but now that plants are budded and blooming they are being left alone.

Cosmos: didn't think I would even see one flower stalk, lots of nibbling.  Maybe it was the hot days that pushed them into production and now I am the only one interested.

Petunias: purchased, -- it's a battle of the wills, they pull out, I replant same plant.  It does seem they have been passing them by lately so maybe I won.

Nasturtiums: never been a big fan until this year.  I have been taken with an heirloom Alaska Mix from Renee's Garden that will become a staple from now on. Beautiful variegated cream and green striped markings, blooms are strong colors, salmon, orange, mahogany and gold.  Some nibbling when small, but tolerable.  Also tried a variety that was labeled as climbing, heirloom called Climbing Phoenix.  Flowers are smaller and cover the foliage.  Flowers are edible.  Not as climbing as I thought, but makes a good base on the trellis.

Dusty Miller: purchased,  Why do you think every public planting in the nation is bordered in Dusty Miller?  Need I say more?

Sweet Alyssum:  Suffers browsing.  Had hoped that the solid border of light fragrance would discourage the munching, apparently not strong enough.

Snapdragon: slow to develop buds, still an occasional nibbling before the buds are in full development.   Considered an annual but my 2019 plants rebloomed this year.

Hopefully there are more annuals that have been tried and can be added to the list.  Please make any additions in the comment section and I will add them to the list to try next year.


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