Ideas for my new stone pathway?

splitrockMarch 1, 2012

I have laid a stone path that runs along the side of our house, and would like to plant flowering ground covers on each side. I'm thinking about phlox. This area gets morning sun only and needs to resist heavy deer browsing. Our soil is acidic clay. Other plants I have considered are columbine and/or veronica "Georgia Blue". Any thoughts?

The second photo shows the view from the dining area window. Thanks!

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

What state or region are you in? That would help in suggesting some native plants for you.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:10AM
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Good question- our climate is tricky. I am in Sunset Zone 36, Appalachian mountains, in north western North Carolina. We are at 3,000 ft. elevation. We tend to stay wet in the winter and can be very dry in late summer and early fall. We get lots of wild temperature fluctuations in winter and early spring.Thanks for taking the time to respond, fatamorgana.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I like P. divericata and P. stolonifera, which should be fine for you. Have you considered Pachysandra procumbens as a "filler?" It is more or less evergreen...gets bronze in the winter and turns green again in the summer. Other plants can come up through it.

If you can include non-natives, aumtumn fern has performed well for me all year long. It can withstand periods of drought in the semi-shade.

Non-native candy tuft, the perennial one, has withstood minus nine degrees for me up in the mt., about the only plant I put in when I thought I would landscape and before I realized how beautiful the natural area is.

Geraniums, both native and non-native, can spread and fill in. I also love Shortia, and it has done fine for me here in the Piedmont but better up in the mt. ...hard to find and expensive if you do find it.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:26PM
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ncrescue: How about deer damage with the plants you mentioned? I have planted P. divericata at the mountain place. It smelled so good in the car on the way home from the garden center. I came back a week later to find that it had been eaten by something. I am willing to try again and protect it until it is established if it has a real chance.
Anyone: What have you grown that the mountain deer really dislike?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:47PM
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Hellebores are deer resistant and can take just about anything. Also most ferns. Daffodils for spring bulbs, they are toxic so not much of anything will touch them. Deer have never eaten my woodland phlox but maybe that's because they would rather eat the hostas, haha. They don't touch the trilliums, jack in the pulpit, mayapples or Solomon's seal. Or the dutchman's breeches for that matter, maybe that means the rest of the dicentra family would be safe. Mine have been, so far. The milkweed family is safe, too, and euphorbias.

Most anything with a strong or unpleasant taste, or texture is not palatable to the deer; tho if they are starving they will eat almost anything. Sometimes they will try something once and never go back for it again. They are notorious "tasters". They haven't touched the serviceberry, irises, viburnums, meadow rue (thalictrum), leadwort, chrysogonum, St John's wort, or the little ground cover veronicas. We do have a big deer population too that regularly browse our woods garden. They don't eat the violets either; but the groundhogs do!

Good luck, your path is beautiful! Nice work! What a lovely view that will be from your window.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 6:21AM
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Thanks to all who have responded.
Sandy, your garden sounds full of all the kinds of woodland plants I want to grow. They are just so expensive that I don't want to purchase them and have them eaten and their roots pulled out of the ground as well. I have soloman's seal and could divide it. I have a few hellebores and had planned to use them in the general area of the path. Soloman's seal might look good with the iris you mentioned. Smaller plants would be lost next to solomans's seal, wouldn't they? I do grow it with toad lilly down in Raleigh (zone 7b).
Do any of you grow toad lilly or astilbe in deer populated gardens??

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 9:51AM
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Deer have eaten almost all of the woodland plants mentioned by Mosswitch except for hellabores and autumn fern. They have eaten other ferns, however. I have SO many hellabores that I would love to donate to now pulling them out as they are taking over in some places! (Newer varieties are not supposed to seed out.)

Deer ate all of my larger Sol. seals (P. communtatum) but ignored some of the smaller ones and the Uvularias. I think rabbits also work on the smaller plants such as trilliums...I try to remember to spray them.

Nothing has eaten the Pachysandra here, but it is slow growing at first, same for the geraniums. The perennial candy tuff I mentioned has survived 18 years in the mountain with no critter damage...and grows on so little soil!

Every area is different, and every deer population seems to "try" many things, but I agree that bulbs in the Narcissi group are fairly safe...but have had animals pull them up by the foliage...same with iris...and then drop them. It's always a battle.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Thanks, ncrescue. This is the kind of information I really need ("survived 18 years with no critter damage"). I definitely will use it on the sunnier side of the path. My Soloman's seal has to be protected in the winter because the deer dig up the roots and eat them. I think they won't eat it in the summer. I fenced what was left of it years ago and have not removed the fence.
I have read that deer eat some of the geraniums and that I should order Big Root geranium because it is hairy. I really like Roxanne. What kind to you have?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Isn't that funny, how deer will eat something in one area and not in another! I have grown toad lilies for years and they have never been touched by deer, and the plant tag says deer resistant. Astilbes, I wouldn't think so much. They've never eaten mine but that may be because they haven't tried them yet. Most of my astilbes are closer to the house where the deer don't usually go.

I have several big patches of giant solomon's seal, native solomon's seal, and false ss, and they have never touched any of them. The evergreen solomon's seal however is a different story, they ripped them out by the roots and ate the whole plant. They did the same thing with liriope.

I am going to try Repellex on my small Japanese maples and other deer salad plants, like my hostas, and see what happens. Presently I cover my hostas with upside down wire baskets and surround others with short bamboo stakes (deer are browsers and they don't like to bump their noses on sharp things) and so far they leave the protected plants alone.

I also use white marker flags here and there in the woods, as I am hoping a white flag (the raised tail on a white tailed deer spells danger) flipping around will make them think there is danger there.

I don't see many rabbits, the hawks, eagles, owls and foxes pretty much take care of that problem.

I'll try anything once! Lol!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 5:56PM
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That's great news about the toad lilly; it is one of my favorite plants and spreads well.

Does anyone grow heuchera with deer? Tiarrella?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:32PM
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Deer have never touched my heuchera nor the tiarella. Something ate all of my toad lily. Again, different plants for different critters, depending on hunger factor and location.

Cages have been dragged away, and the vunerable plant eaten. Flags work for a while. The spray I use is called "I Must Garden." I have heard even the spray product needs to be changed every year or so as the deer finally figure out they can still eat the plant.

In the wild there are usually enough plants to balance out the browsing, but in our garden areas we often have only a few of something special, so there's the problem.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 9:05AM
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I pin my cages down with landscape fabric U-pins so they aren't easy to drag off, and I also use wire cages made out of 2 x 4 wire with the sharp ends sticking up so it isn't pleasant for them to try eating my plants.

For groundhog troubles I dust the plants with black pepper, they hate it and leave the peppered plants be. But I have to reapply it after a rain.

Nothing has ever eaten my heucheras, tiarellas or heucherellas either. Yet. Or mums or irises, but they munch away on the daylilies, so I only plant the common orange variety where they can find them.

I think deer resistance may be largely a matter of trial and error in individual gardens that are susceptible to maurauding. If you think any plant might be in danger, protect it no matter what the tag says about being deer resistant.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 11:58PM
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So, ncrescue and mosswitch, you both agree on heuchera, tiarellas and heucherellas. I really love these plants. I had problems growing them in the past in sandy soil in Nashville, NC because of the many voles. I have some voles at the cabin, but we have a better population of snakes there, so I hope I won't have such a vole problem. Thanks so much for your advice!
I am going to order the heucherella that I love and look for local sources of iberis and ground cover veronica. When I can, I'll tuck in some small iris. I will mix in some of my existing hellebores, Soloman's seal and toad lilly, but try to keep everything protected for a while until well established.
Now to sketch that out before I forget!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 5:49PM
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Good luck and great planting!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 7:33PM
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