Every Blooming Thing

Courtesy photo/Kathy Bramhall

Finding landscaping plants that aren't a delicacy for deer is always a challenge for people living in rural Tehama County. A doe and fawn are pictured here munching on camellia bushes at the home of Kathy Bramhall, a member of the Red Bluff Garden Club.

We moved to our five acres west of Red Bluff 20+ years ago. The land, formerly open range, had a few native oaks, toyon, and wild

grasses. The former owners had landscaped around the house with weedy lawns (they still are), a large-leafed privet hedge along

the road in front, 12 feet of deciduous hedge in back (we never understood the purpose, deer food?), a magnolia tree and an ash

tree in back, a couple of camellia bushes (getting munched on by the deer) and four rhododendron along the back of the house (all

died years ago), four mulberry trees in the front lawn (we took out two), a couple apple trees, a plum tree, a peach tree and a fig

tree (the deer love them), and half a dozen rose bushes along the west end of the house.

Overly ambitious gardeners that we were (remember this is almost 25 years ago) we added 1,000 Scotch pines, to sell as Christmas

trees, and various other conifers—a couple of cypress, a couple of redwoods, an incense cedar, a couple of Douglas firs—a large

garden for produce to sell at the Famers Markets until the deer discovered it, an apricot tree, a pear tree, several types of iris, a

couple of butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii), a couple of sweet gum (Liquidambar), a silver dollar Eucalyptus, three Eastern

redbud (you know, free if you join Arbor Day), almost 100 rose bushes, and thousands of dollars’ worth of other plants, most of

which became deer food.

Now to the point of my story-We Have Pests-big pests of the four-legged kind, some with horns. We also have turkeys, quail, and

other birds, rabbits and squirrels, which can be a nuisance too.

I now grown roses, rather poorly, in wire cages and must also put wire cages around almost everything else, except irises - YAY!

However, I’ve seen these hungry deer jump up with their front feet, push the wire down and munch away. I’ve seen them brush

by the wire cage, knocking it over and then going back to munch away on my almost award-winning roses.

In these droughty years the deer make their way to our water and then make themselves at home in our yard. If I’m honest I am

sympathetic because they were here first, as we actually took over their home.

For years we kept the deer somewhat at bay when we had dogs, but alas our dogs have all gone to their big reward. I’ve also tried

Zest soap - try hanging bars of soap from 100 rose bushes. I’ve tried human hair, all cuttings from a local salon. We’ve tried shiny

pie pans and shiny ribbon. I tried various sprays, even some expensive mountain lion urine my husband read about. So now I

must keep a big stick by the door, or a water hose.

My advice when gardening in deer country - build a fence FIRST - a tall fence. Good luck.

Red Bluff Garden Club is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc., Pacific Region Garden Clubs, Inc., and

National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Recommended for you