Monday, May 31, 2010

Deer Resistant Plants - M to P

I'm back. I ended up not replacing my modem because, as seems to be common with laptops, the modem was a part of the motherboard. Replacing the modem meant replacing the motherboard for $425. Not likely since I could get an adequate laptop for not much more than that. I had been thinking about getting a router so I could hook into the DSL for Hank's computer, so that's what I did. It took most of a hot afternoon to get it hooked up and working properly - thanks so much Frognet for figuring it out with me - and now I'm back online, better than before. So here goes with the rest of the deer resistant plants.

This first one today is only good if you have a large, damp spot. These leaves are over 2 feet across. Petasites blooms in early spring, sometimes even as early as February, so you get to enjoy it over a long season, but like I said, you need room for something that can get to 3 or 4 feet tall and whose leaves sometimes even get to 3 feet across. It makes quite a statement.
This is a not well known plant and is called Persicaria bistorta. The pink blooms are about 3-4 inches tall. It likes full sun and a very damp place. Ours grows at the edge of the bog. No scent that I can tell, but it does make good cut flowers.

Penstemon 'Elfin Pink' seems to grow in sun or light shade, is about 18 inches tall and is blooming right now. It has slowly expanded to form a nice sized clump. Good as a cut flower. It doesn't seem to set seed, or at least the seeds don't seem to make new plants.

Passion vine, Passiflora, is mainly a tropical thing, but this one type Passiflora incarnata, is hardy to zone 6. It is really late coming up, waiting until all chance of frost is way past, but when it does come up, it's vine almost seems to be growing while you watch. Pretty blue flowers on a vine that can get up to the second story windows in a good year. Egg sized and shaped green fruits appear after the flowers. More of a curiosity than an edible since our season is too short to ripen them.

This is a lovely variegated version of our native Virginia Creeper, Parthenocissis. The name of this cultivar is 'Snow Showers', or is that 'Star Showers'. Right now I'm not sure. It is difficult to get started sometimes, but once established it is a well behaved vine or will creep along the ground. Not vigorous enough to be a problem.

This is an annual, Nicotiana sylvestris. Seeds seem to be readily available and once you plant it, it will self seed so you should always have a few plants. It is a big thing, as tall as I am with a big, wide rosette of fuzzy leaves at the base. It is highly scented, so grow it near the house where you can enjoy the scent, especially in the evenings.

Bee Balm in a shade almost like this grows wild here along the roadsides. This is a tame version, Monarda 'Blue Stockings'. It is probably about 3 feet tall and blooms early summer, sometimes continuing sporadically until frost. Colors can be lavender, pink, blue and all sorts of shades in between.

Last for today are Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginiana. These are late spring blooming, after which they go dormant. There is a white version, but it is very weak compared to the blue form. It will readily self seed and is easy to transplant, so you can spread it around the garden or share it with friends. My favorite kind of plant.
More plants tomorrow, starting with Pinellia.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I'll be back in a few days, just as soon as I get a computer modem problem solved.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Deer Resistant Plants - I, J, K and L

OK, this first one won't be in everyone's garden. Skunk Cabbage, Lysichiton, is a plant of bogs and damp places. It grows in deciduous woods and blooms in very early spring. This is the Asian version which has a white bloom. The one native to North America has a yellow one.
Lychnis is a sun plant that grows about 3 feet tall and has these wonderfully bright red blooms on the tops of the stems in summer. It is long blooming and doesn't seem to be bothered by much.

The Ligularias form large mounds of foliage and have yellow flowers in late summer of fall. They prefer shade, or at least not hot afternoon sun. This is one of my favorites, Britt Marie Crawford, because of the wonderful deep red on the undersides of the leaves.

I love plants that spread themselves around the garden gently and Lamiastrum 'Hermann's Pride' does just that. It didn't for a long time, but now I have small clumps here and there. It has yellow flowers in the spring and prefers shade. It grows no more than a foot tall and seems to make small clumps, never getting in the way of anything else. Very well behaved for something that self seeds.

Kalimeris yomena 'Fuji' is probably not very well known and I know I've never seen it at a local garden center. It will grow in some sun, but skip the hot afternoon variety. More sun will have the leaves looking more white and green as opposed to gold and green like in this picture. It is low growing, maybe 8 inches tall and has blue aster-like flowers in the fall.

This is a really odd one and one which we had trouble getting started here. Jeffersonia is a wil flower, making a clump about a foot tall and has white flowers about the time that the crocuses bloom. It comes up almost overnight and is in full bloom within days. Although the blooms don't last too many days, it is certainly lovely white they are there.

Finally, this is one I grew for the first time last year. It is a ground cover, literally, being less than an inch tall. It went dormant over the winter, but has returned, which pleased me greatly since I love the miniature blue flowers with which it covers itself - lots in spring, but continuing over the whole season. It would be good between stepping stones or just to cover a bare space.
Well, half of the alphabet is done. More plants tomorrow. I might mention spring bulbs just a bit since all of the catalogs to order them are sitting here. Daffodils are the most deer resistant. They just don't bother them at all. Tulips and Crocus are favorites and will usualy be nibbled if the deer find them. I've not had trouble with deer eating Scilla, Muscari, Chionodoxa, Galanthus, or Pushkinia. Of course, the same old caution applies - if deer are starving, they will eat most anything. I am very pleased that my neighbor has planted a food plot for the deer which they seem to prefer to my garden and after 2 or 3 years, we seem to have re-routed them somewhat to things they like even better than my hostas and daylilies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Deer Resistant Plants - F, G and H

Hypericum 'Brigadoon' seems like sort of a cross between a shrub and a perennial. Most hypericums are listed as shrubs, but this glowing gold one sort of crawls across the ground, making a small clump that grows here in morning sun.
Hibiscus are certainly noticed in the garden and deer don't bother them at all. The flowers can be huge. This one is 'Lord Baltimore' and is an older variety. The plants are 4 or 5 feet tall with flowers easily 10 inches across. They like full sun and are happy in a damp place.

If Hibiscus are big and showy, Hellebores are much more subtle. Their claim to fame is that they bloom in late winter or early spring. They like shade - no strong winter sun - and protection from the wind. Colors can range from white to the very darkest. I've done posts on hellebores before, so check back to other blog posts to see some of the other colors.

Goldenseal or Hydrastis is a plant that is native to the Appalachian region. About a foot tall, it blooms in early spring, one flower to a leaf. It likes shade.

This is a plant I'm not necessarily recommending, but deer certainly don't eat it. It is Galeobdolon and is a ground cover. It is gorgeous, especially when in bloom, but it spreads and will kill out anything growing with it. This is, or course, an advantage on a slope where nothing else will grow. More shade than sun, but it will grow just about anyplace.

Not well known, the variegated Fragaria will also spread, but nicely. Sun or shade. White flowers and little strawberries. It is sometimes hard to get started, but once happy, it is not bothered by much of anything.

The Filipendulas are a varied group. There are tiny ones, big ones, variegated ones and gold leaf ones. All have plume-like flowers, some white and some pink. I have one with six foot tall bloomscapes which is native to eastern Russia.
For everything deer eat, there are really quite a few that they don't bother. We fight them in the hostas and daylilies, which, unfortunately make up large parts of our gardens, but if doesn't take much looking to find things that they don't eat. Good luck in your searches. More plants tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Plants Deer Don't Eat - D and E

Euphorbias are generally not liked because they have a milky sap which tastes bad. It can also cause some skin irritation in a few people, but even with all of my allergies, I've never had a problem with it. This is an odd one called 'Chameleon' and one that self seeds. The leaves are dark green/burgundy and the flowers are at the top of the 2 foot stems early in the season. I like it because it is quite showy, but Hank is less inclined to let the seedlings stay. It seems to be rather un-picky about where it grows.
This Euphorbia is called Cypress Spurge. It is short, has yellow blooms in late spring and will grow in sunny, dry places, though a nicer home will have it looking more lush.

Epimediums don't seem to be eaten by deer, but in late winter, if snow is covering things and the rabbits are hungry, they will eat last year's foliage to the ground. Not really a problem, because new foliage was coming in the spring anyway. Very early spring bloom. It was hard to pick just one of these for the photo. If you want to see all of the flower colors and shapes, even one with very dark chocolate colored leaves, just go to the photo gallery on the website

This is Eomecon, commonly called Chinese Bloodroot. It spreads by underground runners, and can get a bit out of hand, but it is really easy to weed out if it does move where you don't want it. It has single white flowers on scapes that are just a bit taller than the leaves. If you are weeding it out, be prepared for orange hands if you don't wear gloves as it has typical orange/red sap in the stems and roots. It washes off, but was a bit of a surprise the first time I weeded some out. It will grow in shade or sun, but seems to prefer light shade.

Bleeding Hearts, Dicentra, have always been one of my favorite spring flowers. This one is 'Gold Heart' which has yellow/gold leaves and rosy red flowers. There are also the more common green leaf forms with either red or white flowers. These go dormant after bloom as soon as the weather heats up. Plant in shade.

Dicentra, more commonly known as Pinks, come in all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes. This is a wee tiny one, flowers just about a quarter of an inch across that forms a mat of blue/green foliage and although it blooms heavily in spring, it will bloom sporadically over the summer and fall. Sun or shade and probably a place that isn't too wet, though too dry isn't all that good either.
We spent yesterday weeding and neatening up in the gardens between the showers. It's funny how little unseen hosta seedlings can seemingly overnight become large plants. We probably dug out a dozen yesterday from a section of the garden that hadn't been redone for awhile. They will be replaced by some Iris cristata that will be more in scale with the rest of the plants there. More weeding today - this time thistle that is invading some of the peony beds.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Deer Resistant Plants - B and C

Corydalis lutea is a shade loving plant (though it will take quite a bit of sun) what grows about a foot tall and in mild winters is evergreen. It self seeds gently and you will find small bits of it throughout the garden in time. I have it in lots of places, including 2 clumps that seeded about 12 feet up in a large, mostly dead maple tree.
Lily of the Valley has always been a good deer-resistant plant. This one has yellow/gold stripes. We also have one with a gold edge. I love the scent of the flowers when it blooms in May. Light shade, but needs some sun for the variegation.

This is an odd one, and hard to find. It is a variegated horseradish. Double duty here since you can dig it and eat it just like the plain old green version. It likes a bit of shade, and in fact, ours grows in quite dense shade under a bush. Some years the variegation is better than others, but it is always nice.

Not everyone likes plants with dark leaves, but for a little something different, this might work in your garden. It is a Cimicifuga called 'Brunette'. It makes a mound of ferny foliage about 18 inches tall and then in mid to late summer throws up a flower scape which is probably at least 3 feet tall with plumy, astilbe-like blooms. Another shade plant.

We knew nothing about this one when we bought it except that we loved the silver foliage. We didn't even know if it would survive the winter. Not only did it survive, but it was in full leaf the whole time. Now, in late spring, it is covered with white flowers. We grow it in full sun at the edge of a lotus pond (though since it's a lined pond, the soil where it grows it pretty dry, especially in summer. I'm going to divide this one so I can have it in a couple of other places.

Cassia hebecarpa is probably something most people don't know. It loves sun, though it will grow in light shade - just not flower as much. It is tall, about 4 feet and gets the lovely yellow blooms in late summer. It does self seed, so you have to weed out the seedlings if you don't want all of them. Good for the back of the border.

Brunnera - I'd grow this one just for the flowers, even though they only last a few weeks in late spring. The color is just so gorgeous. This one is called 'Langtrees'. There is a green and white variegated on and a number of new varieties with different silver/white/green variegations. I've found that some of these newer ones will revert to something else in time (maybe a really short time), but Langtrees is quite stable and even comes true from seed, at least mostly.

Blue Eyed Mary is a wild flower around here, but I have a huge area of it in my garden. It has a snapdragon like flower and self seeds. It will germinate in late fall and the tiny plantlets will just sit there all winter, but as soon as spring arrives, they will quickly grow and bloom. I think we get almost a month of bloom here and then as quickly as they came, they just sort of collapse and disappear, luckily to reappear the next year. One of our patches is along the driveway as you walk into the gardens and it always catches people's attention.

Last but not least, it Baptisia. There are versions with other colors of flowers, but I seem to be doing a lot of blue flowers this morning, so I've put the blue version up. It is a tall plant, 3 feet of more and likes sun. It makes big seed pods, but I've never had it self seed here. Probably just as well, since no matter how lovely it is, a whole garden of these would be a bit much.
More plants tomorrow. We had rain all day yesterday and it is raining again now. Weeds are probably growing like crazy, but they'll just have to grow some more until it dries up a bit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lutheran Guilt and Plants Deer Don't Like (2 separate topics - no connection)

One of our regular customers, Ann, was here to pick up some iris yesterday and just happened to mention that I hadn't written anything lately. Properly embarassed, here I am. Sometimes Lutheran Guilt can be a good thing. There has been so much to do here lately between weeding and packing orders and just trying to protect things from frost and floods. This has been a really rainy day with over 2 inches so far and is much too wet to work outside. Just taking a walk around the gardens made it necessary to put on dry clothes.

Another friend, Connie, is looking for some plants that deer don't like to eat. Now, in reality, there are probably very few things that deer will never eat. Hunger makes them eat things they wouldn't normally consume, even things that seem quite unlikely, like the winter they stripped all of the leaves from our American Hollies. Would you want those prickly things on your tongue? I certainly wouldn't. I don't even like weeding around them.

So ... over the next few days I'll post some photos of things deer never touch here and hopefully the deer in other places don't either.

In alphabetical order, just because it's easier to sort through the pictures that way, today I'll do plants whose botanical names start with the letter A.

The first photo is Astilbe 'Sprite', a pale pink version, though Astilbes come in white, red, peach, lavender and maybe more. They bloom early to mid summer and make good cut flowers. Ours seem to like light shade and maybe morning sun.

This next is an odd one, but guaranteed not to be eaten by the deer (or anything else). This is one of those plants you read about occasionally because they smell so bad. They are pollinated by so sorts of flies and smell like rotting meat to attract them. A definite smell of aged roadkill in the garden when this is in bloom, but it is just so cool to look at, we overlook the scent for the day or two it is there and enjoy it. Full sun for this one and well drained soil.
This next is one of our native woods plants, Arisaema or Jack-in-the-Pulpit. They come up in the spring and in late summer, if they've been pollinated you will see red berries where the 'bloom' was. This one likes shade.

Columbines will grow in sun or light shade and come in more colors than you can imagine. They freely cross-polinate and so eventually you end up with a lot of columbine in even more colors. This one is Aquilegia canadensis 'Ecos'. It is an especially tall one, at least 3 feet tall here and sometimes even close to 4 feet tall.

This next is a more unusual one, Alstroemeria 'Glory or the Andes'. Most of the Alstroemerias are tropical things, but this one is happy here in zone 6. We grow it in light shade and it blooms mid-summer. The leaves are variegated with a creamy gold edge.

Achillea, or Yarrow, is an old garden favorite. This also comes in tons of different colors and will pretty much bloom all summer. There are pastel shades on plants only about 18 inches tall, and an old fashioned gold flowered on 3 feet tall. All like full sun and are pretty drought tolerant.

Last photo for today is Acanthus spinosus or Bear's Breeches. This on is supposed to like light shade and we have several growing well that way, but before I knew that I planted one in full sun, and that one also does well. They bloom in mid to late summer with a pink/lavender/blue bloom scape that is quite tall above the plant, which itself is about 18 inches to 2 feet tall. It makes quite a statement in the garden.

So, here's a start. I'll be back tomorrow with the B's and C's.