What would Bambi do?

nygardener(z6 New York)February 19, 2005

I was thinking of planting some morning glories, moonflowers, or other climbing vines along the southern length of my garden's deer fence. However, it then occurred to me that they might wind up as no more than a spring snack for the deer. Would they munch flowering annual vines like these? Any suggestions for colorful deer-proof climbers? (If not, I suppose I'd have to erect a trellis inside the fenced enclosure.)

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The deer haven't eaten my morning glories nor any vines in the ipomea family. They didn't touch the orange thunbergia vines either. They love sweet peas (the flowery ones).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 5:28PM
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The deer LOVED my morning glories. I grew them on a tall obelisk (10 feet tall) and there was a band of eaten leaves right at the height that grazing deer would be. I went to bed one night thinking, "Oh, those morning glories will be glorious in the morning." In the light of dawn, it looked like someone had taken a weed whacker to the central portion! Stupid deer. :-)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 8:20AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I was afraid of that. It sounds like it's hit or miss, so perhaps best to keep everything inside the enclosure.

It's hard to make a small garden look "natural" when it's surrounded by fencing material! I suppose you just have to squint and use your imagination, or do what most property-owners in my neighborhood seem to do and fence in the whole backyard.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2005 at 7:19PM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

Yep, the whole yard is getting fenced in - this time including a stronger gate. The deer paid me a visit last night and pushed my old gate open (which was tied shut but the cord must have weakened over the winter). They then feasted on the wintergreen, lingonberries, horehound and some of the lower twigs on the blueberries. They also either pawed up or ate a bit of the horseradish - I really hope they got a good bite since it was really strong this year! The only climber I grow is hops and I know that the deer love to munch them if they can get to them.

As long as I use the black plastic netting and the thin metal poles, I hardly see the fencing and around here there's less and less options with this population level.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 4:36PM
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Spray painting the metal poles black also causes them to be less visible. But a deer fence is the only way to be able to grow things here. When they started eating hellebores, aconites and mountain laurel, I knew it was time to take steps.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 4:40PM
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cccatcrazy(Z4 NY Catskills)

We put chain link fencing around our veggie garden because the deer discovered that my 16" high raised beds provided a bountiful banquet table -- they didn't even have to bend over! We grow scarlet runner beans on a 20' section of that fence every season. (seeds are planted on the INside of the fence, but the leaves and vines do grow through). The greenery is dense, the long racemes of bright red flowers are very pretty and prolific (not to mention edible in salads) and the flat green beans themselves are delicious. Planted in mid May (after last frost), they are blooming by the beginning of July and bloom and bear continuously until the frost! The flowers attract hummers and bumble bees to the garden area where they pollinate not only the beans, but also the squash, bush beans, eggplant and anything else that needs cross pollination! The deer have NOT bothered these beans in 15 years of continuous planting! They far prefer to browse the fruit trees and raspberries.

Oh, they have not bothered the Nanking cherry bushes either, although they have browsed the Hansen cherry bushes and the elderberry to the ground! We also have a bear and a family of raccoons that come in the night to harvest early apples, blueberries and peaches!

Ah, well... Oh, on another section of fencing, we wind the winter squash (butternut and spaaghetti) tendrils through the fence to keep the fruits off the ground -- the deer don't bother them either -- I don't think they like the prickly leaves.

We are trying to train orange trumpet vine up the south east corner of our deck, and while the plant is not exactly thriving, the deer are not bothering it either, although they regularly trim the hosta growing justa few feet away.

Deer eat what their mothers have shown them to be edible, so there is no totally applicable list of deer-proof plants. The 6-8 foot rhodies in the area seemed to indicate that the deer didn't like these leathery plants -- so we planted them across the front of our house under the bedroom windows. They were untouched for YEARS, but in 1996, when we had all that snow on the ground, the starving deer walked on top of the snow and ate every visible leaf and young branch! But they haven't bothered with them since! Go figure!

I wish you garden daydreams! Marie

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 9:20AM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

No problems with daydreams  in them, I can remove the fence altogether, and push back the last frost to, I don't know, April Fool's Day.

As for Bambi, much seems to depend on what other sources of food are available nearby, her formative years as a fawn, and other imponderables. As Murphy observed, "Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, light, humidity, and other variables, the organism will do as it damn well pleases."

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 11:15AM
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