However much you like wildlife, it can be disheartening to see deer
and other critters munching away on plants to which you have devoted
so much of your time and money. If you see this as a potential
problem, the most sensible solution is to start out with plants that
deer are less likely to find desirable.
QUESTION: "We have just moved to a new home and the back yard is
heavily treed with pines and a few hardwoods. Therefore it is partial
sun to shade. We're interested in purchasing some shrubs and ferns
which are resistant to deer. What are your suggestions?" - Dave
ANSWER: Being "deer resistant" is a relative phrase. If deer are not
getting food from their normal sources, they will eat anything and
everything. With that noted, some plants that will grow at least in
partly shaded areas and that are not on the top of the list for deer
to eat are:
Sage, Thyme, Chives, Hellebore, Ferns, Yarrow, Bamboo, Blue fescue,
Boxwood, Dogwood, Euonymus, Forsythia, Holly, Japanese red maple,
Junipers, Sambucus, Viburnum.
QUESTION: "We've been thinking of planting some Barberry and we
looked at a variety called Crimson Pygmy. However, we were told there
is another variety that has even redder foliage. Can you tell me what
it's called?" - James T.
ANSWER: I believe you're thinking of a Barberry named Berberis
thunbergii, Royal Burgundy. Royal Burgundy has a number of benefits
over Crimson Pygmy. For one thing, I prefer the reddish-purple
foliage of the Royal Burgundy. It holds its color throughout the
summer before turning to a darker, almost blackish-red in the fall
before defoliating for winter.
Royal Burgundy is also smaller with a more compact shape compared to
Crimson Pygmy with a mature height of around 18 inches and a spread of
30 inches or so. Although it is tolerant of shade, you'll see the
best color when it is planted in full sun. It is quite drought-
tolerant and can be used in xeriscaping.
Planting Royal Burgundy en masse adjacent to gold or blue evergreens
allows the contrast to make the color really "pop." Remember that it
is thorny so handle with care.
QUESTION: "Having read your article on raised boxes, I have a
question. In making the raised boxes can one use treated lumber?
Sounds hideous, I know, but I've seen it done and it raises the
question in my mind of leaching chemicals from the wood to the soil
and then to the roots to the edibles. Really bad idea or am I worried
unnecessarily?" - Erik Jansen
ANSWER: No, actually you are correct to question their use. But, you
know, I have read arguments from both sides. Gardeners and the nursery
industry alike have used pressure treated wood for raised beds for
decades and have not experienced any problems.
However, there are arguments that the chemicals used on this lumber
leaches into the soil. I have e-mailed a link to you from Fine
Gardening Magazine that will offer you much more information. (If
other readers want to see this article, drop me an e-mail at
email@example.com and I'll send you the link. Alternatively, go to
http://www.taunton.com/finegardening/ and type "pressure treated
lumber" into the search window.)
You can isolate pressure-treated wood by lining the inside of a bed
with heavy plastic to prevent leaching of chemicals from the wood into
the soil. Some landscape designers are now using recycled plastic
lumber, such as the brand name Trex, when building raised beds.
Redwood, cypress, cedar and straw bales can be used as organic
materials to create beds as well as many inorganic products such as
old tractor tires, large garbage bags (heavy mil), and masonry, and
now kits are available for raised beds in many garden centers and
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org