Add a little spice to your garden


A Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly enjoying Verbena nectar above.


Clethra alnifolia, the summersweet is in full bloom right now with really lovely fragrant white flowers. [Clethra ‘Anne Bidwell’ flowering, above.]Spicebush-Swallowtail-larva-640x852

A Spicebush Swallowtail catapiller above.

The larvae of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly lives on a leaf that’s folded over.  Don’t kill it!  It does no harm.  A showy Spicebush native Lindera benzoin and is worth placing in your garden; so is Clethra Ruby Spice.  Clethra can take a wet spot, and it will sucker a spread and form a nice colony over time. Typically you’ll see it growing along wetlands, pond edges, and in the understory as well, so it will tolerate some shade. Similar conditions to the winterberry holly. They can grow side by side and have a similar growth habit, with that suckering nature to both of them.  They are both DEER RESISTANT!


Oh deer. Looking around the yard, it seems that some deer were never told, “You don’t like that plant!”

In truth, there are certain plants that deer prefer over others, but several factors play into what they will munch.

  • the severity of the winter
  • the availability of other food

In short, if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time to seek out and plant “deer-proof” plants; on the contrary it’s a good idea if you live in deer country. Just bear in mind that when and if the deer exhaust their other options, they may sample your shrubs.

Shrubs regarded as highly deer resistant:

Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica)
Boxwoods (Buxus spp.)
Butterfly bush (Buddleja spp.)
Caryopteris spp.
Daphne spp. (shown above, Daphne odora)
Elderberries (Sambucus spp.)
Hollies (Ilex spp.)
Leucothoe spp.
Mahonia spp.
Pieris spp.
Viburnum spp.

“Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance,” a page by Rutgers University,   rates a wide range of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and ornamental grasses for how susceptible to deer damage they typically are.  The extensive lists of plants Rarely Damaged or Seldom Severely Damaged plants are a delight to choose from.  Now if you choose an azalea, which is not native, chances are they’ll get nibbles from deer, although mine were never nibbled.

Deer don’t touch a hedge of boxwood and some hydrangea (H. macrophylla and H. paniculata).

Where do you garden and if you deal with deer, what plants have you found they avoid?



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