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Consider a fresh coat of paint
Evaluate the walks and driveway
Consider the view from the street
Improve the entry with proper pruning

Welcome Home, Creating Curb Appeal

by McDonald Garden Center Owner, Eddie Anderson

The greeting message provided by your home is one of the important considerations when developing the street view. The architect developed the style and function of the house. The builder is often the one who lays out the walk and driveway system to the home. In Elizabeth Lake Estates, the city maintains the sidewalks in front of most homes. The layout of the lawn, trees and shrubs ties it all together. These are the basic factors that work together to compose the entry system to your home.

When maintaining existing plantings or preparing the home for sale, take a few minutes to evaluate the greeting message you are sending. A general rule of thumb is that every 20-25 years the foundation planting needs renovation work. Shrubs become woody and hard to care for, the shade patterns have changed or plants have just out-grown the site. Styles may have changed or your taste may be different than it was a few years ago. The exterior areas of your home will typically account for about 10% of the total value of the real estate and can increase from there depending upon paving, plantings, walls and fences, structures and art.

Here are 10 tips that will help you decide what if any changes are needed to insure a warm welcome to your home:

  1. Evaluate the trees. Are they over growing their location? Is the canopy raised high enough to create good air flow? Are the branches framing the view or blocking the view? Would removing one or more trees help to strengthen the remaining trees and shrubs?
  2. Evaluate the walks and driveway. Are they clean? Over time mold and algae can make a nice entry look old and tired. “Wet and Forget” or “Spray and Walk Away” can help clean up the concrete or pavers. (Works on the roof as well). Power washing and a sealer afterwards will add life to the cleaning. Are the walks wide enough? Generally walks are 48 inches wide. That is great for single file but may seem a little close when greeting a family coming for a visit. Narrow walks may reduce the value for a couple of prospective buyers walking to the front door. A row of pavers set on either side of the walk can be an inexpensive solution. Insure that shrubs are not encroaching on the people space you have created. If plant growth is more than a foot tall I like to have at least 12 inches from the edge of the walk clear of foliage and branches. This includes the driveway and the sidewalk in front of the home. It is no fun to get out of your car and be greeted with a slap in the face from a wet branch. We pride ourselves in having a walkable neighborhood. Be sure your sidewalk is open and easy to navigate.
  3. Improve the entry with proper pruning. In preparing this article I discovered that over time I have allowed a branch to grow into the view of my entry system. It is easy to miss the changes that are occurring as plants grow. Those changes can turn a charming entry into an uncomfortable or even claustrophobic experience. Spring growth is slowing down now and it is a good time to prune Hear encroaching shrubs. The internet has made it possible for us to learn how to solve many of the home care issues. If you are uncertain about the proper pruning of your plants you can easily watch a You Tube video on the subject. Many grounds maintenance companies have skill at doing the work for you. Be sure you check for certification, training time and experience level. Look at their work and check references. It is one thing to mow and blow and a whole different world to bring to life the vision of the design, recognize disease, identify the weeds and properly prune the wide variety of plants in the garden.
  4. Safety first. The city will take care of the cracks and heaving of the side walk in front of your home. It is up to you to insure safe passage for family and guests. More on this in later articles.
  5. Evaluate the View. From the street is your eye guided to the front entrance? Do the plantings frame and support the entrance? Color can draw the eye in a sea of green plants. In-ground plantings may be a nice addition. Often a color coordinated ceramic planter can help bring the eye in the direction you would like. A nice fresh, well maintained planting in the pot can send a cheery greeting and the message that we take extra care.
  6. Evaluate night time entry. Do you stand at the door trying to find the door knob or the place to insert your key in the lock? Today time clocks, photo cells and motion detectors can make it much easier to light the entry at appropriate times. Low voltage LED lighting has become a great inexpensive way to solve the problem. You can use the easy-to-install runway approach with using photo cells or consider the more up scale use of moon lighting, wall washes or focal point high lighting.
  7. Evaluate the plant selections. Mature size, shape, texture, flowering, microclimate, fragrance and ease of care are some of the considerations when choosing the plants for your entry. More on this at another time.
  8. Screen unsightly views. It is always important to find ways to screen unattractive aspects of a home. Can you find a convenient home for the trash cans that neighbors and visitors do not see. Utilities can often be screened with shrubs or a small fence. A shade canopy from a tree or building can help the air conditioner run more efficiently. Ladders, wheel barrows and other maintenance equipment need a home out of sight as well. In Hampton Roads hiding boats and trailer storage is often a challenge. Folks living on the water expose both the front and back of their home to neighbors, friends and boat visitors as well.
  9. Consider a fresh coat of paint. Color trends are constantly changing. It is easy to add a fresh new look with paint. Matching the new color theme with complimentary accessories can bring your home in tune with the times. Salt treated lumber has added years of service to decks, steps and fences. Over time the lumber takes on a very old and weathered look of yesterday. A fresh coat of paint can make that look more like a part of your home.
  10. Hire a consultant. Not confident in your own taste and skill? There are a number of talented professionals that can help. Architects, landscape architects, landscape designers, painting contractors, realtors and home staging specialists to name a few. Magazines like Architecture, Coastal Living, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern Living all offer exciting ideas to help freshen you home. Prefer the internet? Try www.houzz.com, https://www.pinterest.com/ or https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=home+landscaping+ideas.
Ticks in the Landscape
Jonathan Green Organic Insect Granules
Cedar Mulch
Fertilome Bug Blaster Granules or liquid spray
Hi Yield Turf Ranger Insect Granules
Fertilome Broad Spectrum Insect Spray

Ticks in the Landscape

Summertime - time to get outside with your family and friends and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather in your yard. The last thing you want to do is cover up and spend the whole day checking the kids and pets for ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts summer 2017, to be the biggest tick-fest season ever. Why? Because there will be more ticks. The reason - last winter's mild temps weren't enought to kill these little pests.

Although ticks don’t pose a direct threat to the overall health of your turf, they can threaten the potential health of your family, friends and pets. Ticks hide in lawns and can cause potential health risks such as skin irritation, fever, aches & pains, rashes and diseases like Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia as well as, while rare, the deadly Powassan virus (often carried by blacklegged ticks) or paralysis. It’s important to understand that with tick populations on the rise, there is an increased risk of contracting these diseases. The good news is it's not too late to do something about it. Below are six simple strategies, which can help you create a tick-free zone and minimize the likelihood of tick-related problems for you and your family.

  1. Prune back trees and shrubs to allow in more light. Ticks prefer hot, humid habitats, so be sure to allow as much light in as possible.
  2. Keep grass clipped to allow in more light and limit moisture. Ticks like tall grasses but do not cross into trimmed, clear lawns.
  3. If you mulch, choose cedar nuggets or chips. Not only is cedar a natural repellant for ticks and fleas, the nuggets retain less moisture and are therefore a stronger repellant of ticks.
  4. Keep it tidy. Pick-up and neatly stack empty gardening containers to reduce hiding and nesting spots for mice.
  5. Utilize deer repelling plants in the landscape. Deer are HOV’s (high occupancy vehicles) for ticks. Child-safe plants that might repel deer include strong-smelling herbs such as mint and lavender.
  6. Apply insect repelling & eliminating solutions. We recommend:
  • Jonathan Green Organic Insect Granules - kills and repels over 100 insect pests with a patented blend of organic plant oils including ants, fleas, spiders, ticks, chinch bugs, ants, earwigs, army worms, spiders, billbugs, beetles, mealybugs, millipedes and many other lawn insects. Environmentally safe.
  • Fertilome Bug Blaster Liquid Spray or Granules - provides broad spectrum control of insect pests in lawns, landscapes, perimeter around homes and buildings. Controls fire ants, fleas, ticks, mole crickets, chinch bugs, European crane flies, scorpions and other listed insect pests.
  • Fertilome Broad Spectrum Insect Spray - for use on lawns, ornamentals, listed garden vegetables, and fruit trees. Provides four month control of insects indoors and up to six-weeks of control of insects outdoors. Kills insects and pests that damage roses, flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and lawns. Controlled ants, armyworms, crickets, mosquitoes, ticks, and many more listed on the label.
  • Hi Yield Turf Ranger Insect Granules – a broad spectrum residual insecticide for the control of certain insects in home lawns. Controls ants, army worms, chinch bugs, crickets, fire ants, fleas, grasshoppers, sod webworms, scorpions, spiders, European crane fly and others listed on label.

The benefits of enjoying the great outdoors far outweigh the risks related to tick bites. However, with the increase of people contracting Lyme’s disease and other tick-related conditions, anyone who spend time outdoors during the hot and hazy days of summer needs to be aware of the potential threat associated with ticks. Following these recommendations and precautions can help reduce the risks and keep ticks away.

Miniature Gardens
Creating a Miniature Garden
Creative Kids & Miniature Gardens
Fairy Gardens
Miniature Gardens

Creating Unique, Miniature Gardens

School’s out and the kids are bored. If you are looking for a fun activity for your little ones (or maybe for yourself), look no further. You can create unique miniature plantings with containers you already have…so dust off those old tin boxes, glass bottles, or whatever else you have on hand and get inspired. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • If your container does not have drainage holes and you cannot drill a hole, add a layer of gravel and charcoal for drainage.
  • If you are considering creating a closed terrarium, stray away from succulents and cacti as they prefer more air flow.
  • We offer a wide selection of mini plants from ferns to cacti. Choose plants that “get along” with each other (succulents and ferns do not make the best partners). We can help you find plants that pair well.
  • If you prefer not to add potting soil directly to your container of choice, you can leave your plants in their plastic pots, set them inside your container, and add moss to hide the plastic pot.
  • If your container is metal, add a layer of foil or plastic before you add soil to help prevent rust.

Once you have chosen your plants, the possibilities are endless. Arrange them however you like in your container and then dress it up. You can add moss, rocks and shells from your trips to the beach, fairy figurines, or whatever sparks your imagination. Next thing you know, you will be scouring your home or the thrift stores for your next unique miniature garden containers. Happy mini gardening!

Berrylicious Blueberry Crumb Cake
July is National Blueberry Month
Berrylicious Blueberry Crumb Cake
Fresh from the Oven
Blueberry Crumb Cake by Chef Menu
McDonald Garden Center, Family-Grown, Hand-Picked Blueberries

Berrylicious Blueberry Crumb Cake

Did you know that July is National Blueberry Month? Quite possibly nature's perfect fruit, blueberries are one of the healthiest foods around, and they require no pitting or peeling. Take advantage of these little blue gems with this delightful blueberry crumb cake recipe created by our very own Chef Manu.

Although crumb cakes are most often served for breakfast, this version, with oodles of sweet blueberries and a rich, buttery topping, is decadent enough to be served for dessert (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course). Or, have it with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. So, top-off your summer with this any-time blueberry treat.

Cuisine de Jardin with Chef Manu - "Berrylicious Blueberry Crumb Cake.”

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup almond powder
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 box of fresh blueberries

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Instructions:

For Cake:

  1. Mix melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla and sugar
  2. Add milk and mix
  3. Add eggs and mix
  4. Next add the flour, yeast and almond powder, and mix together to form a paste-like consistency.
  5. Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured Bundt pan

For Topping:

  1. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cold butter
  2. Cover cake with topping

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar and decorate with blueberries.

Monarch Butterly
Bees
Butterflies & Milkweed
Monarch Butterfly

Nectar Gardening for Butterflies, Honey Bees & Native Bees

By Michelle Peterson, St. Lucie County Master Gardener

Plants produce nectar as a means of attracting insects, birds and other potential pollinators. One of thegreatest benefits of gardening with nectar-producing plants is being able to provide an attractive habitat for a great number of wildlife, particularly butterflies, honey bees and native pollinators. A standard nectar garden includes a mix of annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs and trees. Although there are many commonalities in nectar gardens, each has specific requirements when attracting a specificpollinator.

Butterflies:

  • Prefer red, orange, pink and yellow flowers
  • Like trumpet-shaped flowers that hold sweet nectar
  • Need species-specific host plants that provide shelter, camouflage and larval food.

Honeybees:

  • Prefer yellow, white, blue and purple flowers – can’t see the color red.
  • Like daisy-like flowers with broad petals that offer a large landing pad.
  • Need pollen as well as nectar to feed the hive.

Native Bees:

  • Prefer fruiting trees and shrubs and native plants
  • Have short life spans, and like a variety of blossoms throughout the year
  • Are largely ground-dwelling and prefer native soil that free of pesticides and fertilizers

Butterflies and bees also like shallow mud puddles where they get their source of water and minerals. Most plants that attract pollinators require full sun (a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of light a day), so it may be more of a challenge to attract bees and butterflies to your shade garden, though not entirely impossible.

Pesticides will not only keep pesky bugs away, but also the ones that you’re trying to attract. Be very judicious in your applications, and choose spot treatments over systemic. Avoid planting the red flower passion vine (Passiflora racemosa) which can be poisonous to butterfly caterpillars.

Also, be cautious about toxic plants like Yellow Jessamine aka Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) and White Ti Ti (Cyrilla racemiflora ) which are poisonous to bees.

Cordyline
Majesty Palm
Stromanthe
Crotons
Pothos and Philodendron
Ivy
Fern
Dracaenas
Anthirium

Creating a Tropical Container for Shade

When creating any container, there are several factors to consider that will affect the overall impact. Color, of course, is a high priority when trying to achieve a tropical look. There are other details to consider though such as pattern, shape, texture and movement. Considering these will help you create a container you can’t take your eyes off of all summer!

Understanding “thriller, fillers and spillers” will help you to create an eye-catching combination. The “thriller” is the plant that not only brings height to the container, but is also the standout. It’s the plant you normally notice first. “Fillers” are shorter than the “thriller” but equally important. They fill in space while also bringing some element (texture or color) to complement the other plants. “Spillers” are trailing plants. The perfect “spiller” can have a wonderful effect as it cascades over the edge of the container.

You can create your own stunning container with as little as three plants…or feel free to use more! Just remember the elements mentioned above and consider the shady tropical plant suggestions below:

THRILLERS:

Cordylines – the deep red leaves of ‘Florica Red’ Cordyline lend dramatic color that only gets better as the season progresses.

Dracaenas - another eye-catching tropical, especially varieties such as ‘Colorama’ and ‘Limelight.’ Whichever one you choose, you are sure to be impressed by the easy-to-grow nature of these plants.

Palms - potted alone or with companions, palms are the epitome of tropical. Palms bring movement and texture to your container. Even the slightest breeze causes the fronds to rustle back and forth. Try ‘Majesty’, ‘Rhapis’, or ‘Phoenix’ palms.

FILLERS:

Stromanthe ‘Tri Color’ – this beauty brings both color and pattern to the shade. In the evening, watch its leaves fold upward to reveal the magenta undersides.

Ferns – there are many different kinds of ferns. Each provides a unique opportunity to create texture and add a lush tropical feel to your containers. Each new frond on the ‘Autumn’ fern unfurls and takes on a bronze color. The almost wax-like shine and deeply lobed fronds of ‘Austral Gem’ ferns will bring beautiful texture to your container. If you’re looking for something that’s a little more unusual, try ‘Staghorn’ or ‘Blue Star’ ferns. Their funky fronds are sure to garner attention.

Anthuriums - there are few plants that can bloom the way anthurium do. This tropical beauty will thrive on your hot, shady porch all summer too. They can be either the filler or the thriller in a combination container. Anthuriums now come in several shades of pink, red, white, and even purple.

Crotons – the bright mixture of red, orange, yellow and green in croton leaves will dazzle you all summer. Crotons can be grown in the shade, but a little sun will bring out more color in the leaves. Try the varieties ‘Petra’ or ‘Curly Boy.’

SPILLERS:

Pothos and Philodendron – trailing pothos and philodendron are old school houseplants that can become the finishing touch on an outdoor shady container. Both vines grow quickly in our summer heat. Consider ‘Golden’, ‘Satin’, and ‘Neon’ Pothos or Philodendron ‘Cordatum.’

Angel Vine– the lacy stems of this plant are a little more airy and understated compared to big, bold pothos. Angel vine adds a delicate texture to combination containers.

Ivy – one of the most reliable shady trailers. Try traditional green English Ivy or variegated versions like ‘Glacier’ and ‘Gold Child’.

Whichever plants you choose, don’t be afraid to get creative with your containers. To see more shady tropicals or receive help putting your containers together, come on by and see us today!

Summertime Kale Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Crisp kale, ripe fruit, crunchy vegetables and a pungent dressing

CUISINE DU JARDIN with Chef Manu - Summertime Kale Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Featured Recipe Exclusively for McDonald Garden Center

Summertime Kale Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Crisp kale, ripe fruit, crunchy vegetables and a pungent dressing come together to make this tasty and wholesome summertime salad. Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is packed with beta-carotene and other nutrient-rich antioxidants. And, did you know that just one cup of kale offers over two times the amount of vitamin A you need in one day? The fresh summer berries infuse color and a sweet taste. A healthy and light salad that is perfect for summer and pairs well with just about everything!

Ingredients:

  • Kale, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup of red cabbage, shredded
  • 5 radish, thinly sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges, then cut the wedges in half
  • 1 package of strawberries, cut into fours
  • 1 package of raspberries
  • 1 package of blueberries
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Parsley, cilantro and basil

Vinaigrette:

  • 10 raspberries
  • 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 8 tbsp of olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper

Salad:
Toss together kale, carrots, red cabbage, green onions, radishes, strawberries, and tomatoes. Add the raspberries and blueberries. Chop the herbs and mix in.
Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients and the dressing, and mix until well coated. Let set 10-15 minutes and enjoy.

Butterfly Gardens
Host and Nectar Plants
Milkweed
Lantana

Tips on Creating a Successful Butterfly Garden

We’re pretty sure when Jeffery Osborne wrote “On the Wings of Love,” in 1982, he was notbelting out romanticisms to his beloved, but instead bragging abouthis beautiful and blossoming butterfly garden. (Of course we may think all ballads have some sort of tie back to gardening) Whether that’s true or not, we’ve compiled some tips on how you can paint your garden with the fluttering frolic of our favorite pollinators. Here are our must-dos for a successful butterfly garden.

Let the Sun Shine- Butterflies love the sun, and so do successful pollinator plants, so plan your garden in an area that promotes bountiful amounts ofbeams.

It Takes Two to Make a Thing go Right – There are two types of plants you will need to be successful:

  • Host Plants- These plants are ideal for butterflies to lay their eggs on. Milkweed is the most popular and McDonald Garden Center offers a number of varieties. We recommend using a few different types tomaximize your potential.
  • Nectar Plants- Butterflies are drawn to nectar-producing plants like marigold, rhododendron, blackberry, etc. They are also drawn to color, especially red, orange, yellow, and purple. Plant them in groups of 3 to make them easier to see.

Thirst Quenchers- Butterflies need shallow puddles to drink from. Some birdbaths actually have design elements that encourage puddles. Another alternative is to plant your garden in an area where water naturally collects.

Be Diverse- Diversify the landscape. Butterflies have very delicate wings which are easily damaged by wind. Planting larger plants like broad-leafed trees and/or conifers shield your pollinator plants and provides a welcoming and safeenvironment.

Care and Maintenance- Water often until the roots get established. If your soil is acidic, or particularly sandy (which many in Hampton Roads are) we suggest adding compost or using nutrient rich topsoil. gardenReward members get FREE soil testing.

Be Eco-Friendly- You should avoid using pesticides when possible that will harm or kill the butterflies you worked so hard to attract. McDonald Garden Center offers a number of organic solutions.

Butterflies are a beautiful and welcome addition to any garden. Lacking space? Use containers or planters to create your butterfly garden. Pollinator plants need lots of room, so just get a pot large enough to accommodate them.

Six Tips for Blueberry Success

By Eddie Anderson, Owner

Thinking about growing backyard blueberries? Stick to these six simple tips and with proper care, these sweet treats will reward you for years to come!

  1. Test the soil and adjust to a pH 4.5 – 5.5
  2. Mix peat moss in the soil around the plants
  3. Plant 2 or more varieties in the same class
  4. Cover the soil with 4” of mulch
  5. As berries ripen use bird net to protect the crop
  6. Once mature remove old canes.

Test the soil and adjust to a pH 4.5 – 5.5
When the pH is above five, the blueberry plants become stunted and do not become vigorous enough to set good crops of berries. McDonald offers 2 solutions for acidifying the soil. Soil Sulfur is the best for long term adjustment of pH. Soil acidifier is good for quick adjustment of soil pH, however, it may cause aluminum toxicity in blueberries. (http://blueberries.msu.edu/uploads/files/Lowering_Soil_pH_with_Sulfur.pdf)
Sulfur must be applied in the spring or summer, since it requires bacterial activity to convert the sulfur to an active form. Soil acidifier is water soluble and thus works more quickly. McDonald Garden Center offers soil test kits for home garden use, and Garden Rewards members can get free pH soil test at any of our locations.

Mix peat moss in the soil around the plants
Peat moss is an excellent source of organic matter. It helps loosen clay soil for development of the very fibrous roots of blueberries. Peat moss helps sandy soils retain moisture and improves soil nutrient capacity. At the same time, it is a natural soil acidifier. Old leaf mold, old sawdust, lime free compost and bark fines are other sources of organic matter that can be used. Any compost that has had lime used in the composting process (Magill Compost as well as most composted cow manure products is an example) will have a negative effect as a soil amendment and should not be used.

Plant two or more varieties
Research has shown that yields of fruit are up to 25% higher with good cross pollination among varieties of the same species of blueberries. There are several species of Blueberries (Vaccinium) that produce good, edible fruit. The species we deal in are:
Vaccinium virgatum (rabbiteye blueberry; syn. V. ashei)
Vaccinium corymbosum (northern highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)
The pollen from one species generally does not ripen at the same time or is not compatible with another species. Therefore you must use two varieties from the same species to get the benefit of increased yields. Plant breeders have found ways to cross species. These crosses produce large fruit on compact plants that make them easy to protect from birds.

Cover the soil with 4-inches of mulch
Research by the leading universities in zone 5-8 have shown that yields of blueberries will increase up to 30% when the soil has 4-inches of mulch cover. The roots of blueberries, like other ericaceous plants like azaleas, rhododendron and heathers, are very fine and fibrous. The mulch helps hold the moisture around the roots. It helps keep the soil cooler during the summer and warmer in the winter. In addition, bark mulches add organic matter as they decay and tend to acidify the soil. Be sure that the mulch does not develop a crust layer on the surface that sheds water. Fruit size is diminished when the roots dry out during periods of drought.

As berries ripen, use a bird net to protect the crop
It may not happen in the first few years of production, but eventually the birds will learn just how good those little blueberries are. I have had excellent success with a bird net cover. It is necessary to have a frame to keep the net off of the plants. The berries easily get caught in the net and pop off.

Once mature, remove old canes.
As the canes mature the productivity declines. Removing these canes stimulates the production of new ones from the root of the plant. This keeps the plant in the juvenile stage and extents the life of the plant. The young canes are much more productive. Remove about 1/3 of the volume of the plant during the winter each year on healthy plants.

Be sure to visit any McDonald Garden Center or Garden Market this Memorial Day weekend, for Flavor Fest, May 24-29, 2017, for juicy deals on all things edibles.

Lavender
Forsythia
Viburnum
Spirea

Preventing a Deer Buffet

Ah, deer. Gentle, majestic woodland royalty. Or hosta-eating road hazards, depending on your point of view.

Most gardeners have a tortured relationship with deer. We don’t have anything against them except for the fact that they eat everything in sight. Repellants can work, but you need to apply them regularly. A deer fence will keep them out, but is often impractical. What’s a gardener to do?

You can start by choosing plants that deer don’t like, though there’s no such thing as a deer-proof plant. Hungry deer will eat anything. But you can make your yard less appealing than the daylily buffet next door. Not very neighborly, I know, but you can make it up to them with a nice bouquet from your cutting garden.

Deer avoid plants with fuzzy leaves and those that are strongly aromatic. Some gardeners have success planting catnip, lavender and thyme; their strong scent can deter deer from eating more desirable plants growing nearby. Daffodils are also unappealing to deer, and can act as an early season deterrent. The world always needs more daffodils, anyway.

Although deer do not like prickly leaves, they aren’t bothered by rose thorns. So don’t plan on a rose hedge as a good barrier. Barberries, on the other hand, are seldom eaten. They’ll keep the jealous neighbors out of your cutting garden, too.Unfortunately, deer like new plant growth. So that new bed filled with lush, tender plants is very tempting to whitetails. Even plants that are not especially tasty to deer can be appealing when they are leafing out. You may want to invest in some deer repellant for these plantings, at least until their new growth has hardened off.

Plants that are unappealing to deer include Forsythia, Viburnum, Spiraea, and Syringa (lilac). Working with these plants will give you a good start on a garden with season-long color. Add some Juniperus and you’ve got year-round appeal. Rutgers University has an excellent reference that rates the deer resistance of landscape plants.

Remember that hungry deer will eat just about anything. Winter and early spring are the lean times when deer are most likely to eat your plants. In fall they are bulking up for winter, and are especially voracious. In summer time, when the living is easy, they are much more selective. Whatever you do, don’t feed them. They won’t eat your offerings and leave the landscape alone; they’ll learn to come to your place for dinner. And the day you don’t have a nice spread waiting for them is the day they will turn to your new hydrangea planting instead. Besides, feeding deer isn’t healthy for them. It’s often not the nutrition they need, and can contribute to the spread of disease.

If deer are a serious problem in your landscape, it may be time to call in the professionals. McDonald Garden Center offers a variety of treatment options. These repellants won’t hurt the deer and will allow you to enjoy your yard without the frustration of seeing flowers eaten just before they bloom.

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