Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:27 PM

Oh, Deer!

This sweet young thing showed up and browsed our yard every day last week, but so far is a no-show this week. Last year, we had a family of three and, despite the fact that I haven't done a DNA test or anything, I'm pretty sure that this is one of the young ones from that trio. This baby came really close to the house and when I went outside one evening, moved off a bit, but not hurriedly. S/he feasted on tiger lilies and just plain leaves, grass and weeds for almost an hour each day. We don't have a garden or even any plantings to speak of (we like the landscape "au naturel") so we aren't too worried about any real damage being done. When I spoke to friends and neighbors, however, I heard some real horror stories.

Deer, as you may know, are not very fussy eaters. There seems to be very few plants they will not nibble (they don't touch our irises and chives) and especially love hosta and yew. Also on their menu are roses (ouch!), flowers that people really get upset over losing; lillies, hydrangea, rhododendron, tulips and arborvitae. Supposedly, deer are discerning if not fussy, unless they are faced with a shortage of food and then everything (just about) is up for grabs. My sister-in-law, who lives in a densely populated suburb of a major city, says that cooperative extension agents have told her that even plants that deer don't like become much more palatable when they are really hungry. So, while planting things such as andromeda, boxwood, daffodils, pachysandra and lavender will disuade deer in flush times, there's no guarantee that they won't start munching away when they are starving.

Deer don't care for wide open spaces and prefer woodlands for cover. In neighborhoods, buildings, fences, tall bushes and other acoutrements also lend cover and make deer more comfortable as they leisurely chew and digest your entire garden. Around here, it's more common to see small numbers of deer grazing, but in other areas of the Northeast, they travel in numbers up to one dozen. These "gang members" are also nervy. A neighbor described seeing deer at his former home standing on someone's front landing brazenly munching on their yew bushes (which he calls "deer candy"). My sister-in-law has had them snort at her and notes that once your yard gets on the deer food train, they will just keep coming back for more. Her entire neighborhood is at its wits' end with these guys.

Is there really no deterrent? Tune in tomorrow and we'll take a look at a few.
Chat later!

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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