A Bit of Dirt – Spring 2009

The full pdf copy of this edition is available here.

Editor’s Cuff Notes – by Dan Willis.

OH, DEER!
I enjoy living in a woodland setting. I have slowly grown accustomed to seeing quite a few deer around my home. The quiet, graceful movements, the big brown eyes, the gentle flick of its white tail, all reassure me that there still is a place for wild things in the surrounding environment.

One February morning I woke to find 7 does and 3 bucks browsing in my backyard. Two of the bucks were eight pointers with nice symmetrical racks.

This spring, a doe gave birth to a single fawn in a little visited part of my front yard. It was fascinating to watch the little guy or gal struggle to follow mama around the yard.

It seems that many of the deer in my neighborhood have lost their fear of people and cozy right up to my back door. I usually see them enjoying a leisurely meal in my garden at either dawn or dusk. I know that their “home” territory is seldom more than a square mile or two but I don’t  encourage them to think that “home on the range” means my yard. I don’t always appreciate that they view the plants in my yard as their personal salad bar.

Deer browse on tender shoots, twigs, and leaves of about 500 different trees, shrubs, and garden plants. A dense thicket of native trees and shrubs are a deer magnet.

If you wish, you can invite deer onto your property with deer friendly habitat but be realistic. Once having discovered a free meal ticket, they are certain to take advantage of your hospitality.

An adult deer consumes up to 10 pounds of food each day. Multiply that by 10 deer and you are talking about some serious damage to the landscape plants in the garden. When preferred foods are scarce, deer become very indiscriminate will eat just about anything.

To keep the deer away from my hydrangeas, I enclosed that part of my garden with a wire fence. I allow the deer to come up to the fence, look, and drool.

Since deer can be quite a nuisance in my garden, I have planted a lot of plants that deer usually find unpalatable such as Daffodils, Lily of the Valley (Convallaria), Foxglove (Digitalis), Snowdrops (Galanthus), Colchicum, and many others. For more information on deer tolerant plants, visit the Gwinnett Cooperative Extension office.

Other articles in this issue:
Planter And Leaf Mold Tuffas – By Jan Bailey
Wild Chanterelles And Their Look-a-Likes – By Dan Willis