Re: Amer. Gardener article/Wild Greens
Marge, the way most of my azaleas are situated doesn't lend itself to
fencing. They are massed - about six bushes - around the base of an old Black Birch
tree that is growing almost on top of a rock outcropping toward one side of
our so-called lawn (at least it's a green, open space). The downhill side of
the cluster has more shade-loving things (several ferns, wild sarsparilla -
can't remember the botanical name and I'm too lazy to look it up right now - and a
couple of native deciduous azaleas, a small dogwood, etc.), because there is
a large White Pine just beyond it. As I have said before, I'm not
"landscaped." Things are really sited by where I can dig a hole among the rocks. There
is a very large azalea in front of the house which the deer only nibble from
the drive. None of these are fancy named varieties. The ones in back I bought
the year we moved in here - 1970 - for about $1.00 apiece from a local store -
like 3" pots. They did very well until the deer got so bad about 15 years
ago. The one in front was here when we moved in, but just a very scrawny plant
with two or three branches. My DH said we should just yank it out and replace
it, but I'm too soft-hearted, and said let it go and see if I can bring it
back. It came back very well and is about 6 feet in all dimensions. I have no
idea what it is - a fairly bright apricot shade.
I have several deciduous azaleas - native species - which the deer don't seem
to bother. The two I know are R. calendulaceum (sp?), and R. viscosum. The
first is a brilliant red-orange, and the viscosum is white and fragrant. Both
bloom much later than the cultivated ones - late June or early July.
Another is a soft yellow with orange markings. I know it's a native species, but
I'm not sure which - they do hybridize among themselves. Then I have another
that I have never been able to pin down - deciduous, blooms quite early, has
large lavender blooms. My one good named azalea is a 'Hilda Niblett' but she
lives in the vegetable garden.
Yew is really a deer favorite. Nurseries around here don't even carry it any
more for that reason. They haven't bothered my junipers, hemlocks or white
pine, but did a job on my Japanese black pine a few years ago. Now a
miscanthus grows in front of it and it's tall enough they can't reach the branches.
We got about 10" of snow the other day, and it's been quite cold since -
promises to get above freezing by early next week, but who knows if spring will
ever get here.
In a message dated 01/29/2004 12:41:22 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> Well, mine had a nice smorgasbord of yew and azaleas as well at just
> the perfect height for them. For about 6 years I saw virtually no
> azalea bloom. Oddly enough, there were only a couple of
> rhododendrons they chomped and they left most of them alone. For
> years, my poor yew hedges had little green tufts at the top of bare
> stems...not exactly the look I had envisioned when planting them.
> Luckily, they seem to be coming back tho' slowly.
> I tried that thin black mesh netting, too and agree - it is a royal
> pain in the derrihre. I have miles of it in the garage; hate it.
> Had better success with that heavy green mesh plastic garden fencing
> attached to metal garden stakes. Used to erect it around all
> vulnerable shrubs in the fall and remove it in the spring as the deer
> really only hit the azaleas in the winter - too many other nice,
> tender items for them come spring, I guess. My DH said the garden
> looked like a concentration camp in winter with all the fencing
> around everything. It was a major chore to erect and remove
> The heavy duty black plastic deer mesh is easier to work with and
> works better than the light weight stuff, but it is still a pain to
> put up and take down every year. That can be tied to tree trunks
> around groups of plants if trees happen to be in the right place for
> this - or trees and stakes can be used. Draping it on plants doesn't
> really work. The only time using it as fencing around plants doesn't
> work is in deep snow, when the deer can get up high enough to reach
> over it or the snow weighs it down too far.
> Fencing azaleas works best if you keep the fence a foot or so away
> from the shrubs and then cover the top with the heavy weight black
> deer fence mesh. If you make the 'fence' around the shrubs at least
> 5' high, they can't get their necks over it far enough to do too much
> damage. They won't jump into the middle of a bunch of shrubs if
> they're fenced in as a group, either, because they fear they won't be
> able to get out; only works if it's solid shrubbery, tho'...if
> there's a clear spot in the middle, they'll jump the fence into it.
> My herd never hit my big Pieris by the front deck, but they did
> nibble some smaller ones I have out in the holding beds. Never
> touched Miscanthus at all nor Carex. Carex foliage is often really
> sharp; you can get a paper cut from it, so that might be one reason
> they don't eat it. Or, maybe it just doesn't taste good to them.
> I've never heard of them eating any of the species, actually.
> I've finally lost my last 'Powis Castle'. The last lot of cuttings I
> took didn't take and my last plant was completely mangled by a
> falling gutter and collateral damage:-( Need to get another one and
> I've been rather looking and not finding, but I haven't really
> concentrated on it.
> You're right - Aquilegia is another plant my herd did not eat - I
> have them popping up everywhere. They never hit my Epimediums either
> nor my prickly holly - they will eat Ilex crenata with gusto. Now,
> your friend's experience with holly just proves that they will eat
> anything. They never touched my Junipers, yet I have read many
> accounts from those whose Junipers were munched to nothing. Deer
> have leather mouths.
> Well, we got another inch or two last night on top of the ice but the
> roads are pretty clear. Just a challenge to get up our drive. I am
> sick of winter at this point and Feb. is usually the month we get our
> heaviest snows...ack! Hope you didn't get too much of that white
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