23 May 2017

🌿 A Deer and Drought Resistant Garden 🌿

Herb 'Golden Feverfew'
A deer resistant Shaw Island garden plant.
"A vegetable garden almost anywhere in the San Juans requires a fence to keep out the deer. However, there are a lot of beautiful plants you can use in an ornamental border that the deer won't touch––and many of them are drought-resistant as well. Doug Bayley, a landscape gardener who worked at the Farm Nursery on Orcas Island had an experimental deer-resistant and drought-resistant garden there and he learned a lot.
      Some plants were more inviting to the deer than he expected and got nipped in the late summer after the lush growth in the fields tapered off. Those included Shasta Daisies, gaillardia, tulips, pansies, and almost all the annuals except zinnias. Deer also eat yew shrubs (although they're supposed to be poisonous) and cypress, and in the fall they rub small trees and shrubs with their horns and strip the bark off. 
      But there's a long list of plants that came through a full year untouched by the deer, and he recommends them for unfenced areas. All the herbs did well, including rosemary and lavender. Rosemary is considered good luck next to the front door, he added, and rosemary cuttings make a traditional house-warming present. Successful shrubs included potentilla, especially Ellen Willmott; choisya and skimmia, both plants with fragrant white flowers; ceanothus, rock rose, broom, juniper, rhododendron, cotoneaster, heather, hypericum, buddleia, boxwood, ilex, Pieris, and barberry.
Rhomneya coulteri
Deer resistant.
Photograph by Far Reaches Farm Nursery, Pt. Townsend, WA.

      Among the perennials, Rhomneya is both deer and drought resistant but difficult to propagate. Doug tried a couple hundred cuttings at the nursery and was successful with five. 

      Peonies, daylilies, and delphinium lasted as long as they bloomed, but then "the deer munched them down," Doug said. Iris, "are pretty cast iron." Other successful perennials included santolina, dianthus, bergenia, crocosmia, pulmonaria, hardy geraniums, Ajuga, Campanula, Lychnis, poppies, evening primrose, hellebores, and catnip.
      Most of the drought-resistant plants are California natives. Some of the more successful plants were ceanothus, California wild lilac and rock rose. Doug pointed out that many plants will take a lot of drought in August if they get plenty of water in May. In fact, a dry August helps them harden off for winter. 
      We have some limitations in the San Juans, including the deer and the lack of water––but Doug pointed out that the climate here is ideal for almost all kinds of gardening."
Text by San Juan Island writer, Louise Dustrude. San Juan Islands Almanac. Friday Harbor, WA. Volume 11. 1984.
      For her Shaw Island experience Diana includes these on a list of deer-resistant plants:
Lily, Aster, Gladiolus, Alyssum, Cosmos, Dahlias, Zinnia, Sunflower, Crocosmia, Pieris, Viburnum, Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears) and Helleborus.

      Cherie can add; Agastache rugosa, Boxwood, Foxgloves, Fritillaria imperialis (Gatehouse flower spring '18), Cotoneaster dammeri, Crocus, Cyclamen, Daffodils, Dianthus, Echinops, Epimedium, 'Honey Bush', true Geraniums, Leucojum (Summer Snowflake",) Lonicera nitida, the winter-blooming Mahonia x 'Charity', Magnolia grandiflora, Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppies), Nicotiana sylvestris, Oriental Poppies, Trillium, Kniphofia, Common Mullein (Verbascum) which are being tested around the Gatehouse.  

01 May 2017


Blue-eyed Mary
(Collinsia grandiflora)
Mideke porcelain pot.
In early April on coastal bluffs, on through June,
whole ledges and slopes reflect the sky color as
myriad Collinsia open their buds.
It can be a rather tedious gleaning of seed from the
small capsules, so we might not find it for sale at
Gatehouse Seeds.
Enjoy her in the wild.

Anno One May Two Thousand and Seventeen.