|Herb 'Golden Feverfew'|
Deer resistant Shaw Island plant.
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.
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.