What a Deer Wants

2021 has been the year of the deer. Fall is usually an explosion of color. Oxblood Lilies, Sider Lilies,, rain Lilies,, Crinum and Sternbergia are blooming,, and the gardens are alive with butterflies and bees……but not this year. Deer have moved into the neighborhood and have wreaked havoc on every Heirloom Bulb in sight.

Deer are bad neighbors. Deer trespass onto other people’s peoperties, tromp all over gardens without a hint of remorse and eat everything in their path. In the Texas Hill Country,, Deer are like feral cats, but unfortunately, can’t just be relocated. Once Deer discover your gardens, you are sunk…..unless you are clever enough to out-smart the deer.

I’m not very clever.

No, really. I’m not. I can hardly write a blog without literary mistakes. What I lack in deer-proofing cleverness, I gain in creativity and will-power. I am fully focused on deer-proofing my yard without a 10 foot fence.

I have decided to make a little list of the flowers and flower bulbs deer 🦌 prefer. Maybe it will help some of you in heavy deer populated areas. I’ve broken the list into three catagories….”What a Deer Loves, Likes or Dislikes”.. I’m pretty sure that if a deer is hungry enough, even bulbs that a Deer dislikes will get eaten too.

What a Deer Loves. …… Deer love Crinum, Spiders Lilies and Oxblood Lilies. So far, I am discovering Deer prefer to eat the bulbs in that order. Crinum are continually chewed down to the ground. The Spiders are eaten, only when blooming. Finally, if Deer are hungry enough, they will chow down on Oxbloods, flower and foliage. I actually think Deer prefer grass to Oxbloods. During a period of drought, the Oxblood foliage substitutes for grass.

What a Deer Likes……….. Oxalis, Daylilies and Rain Lilies. I have noticed that most of these bulbs are also preferred to be eaten in that order. I’m not really sure why. None of it makes sense to me. Then again, I’ve only eaten Oxalis….and I’m not a Deer.

What a Deer Dislikes………….. This is an easy catagory. Deer do not like Iris and Sternbergia. I have found that Iris and Sternbergia are more like Liver and Onions to Deer. I’m sure there are some of you who actually like Liver and Onions, but probably not compared to chocolate cake. Deer leave the Iris completely alone. In fact, they walk right by the Iris. As far as the Sternbergia, I haven’t seen the Deer eat any of the blooms. Either the Deer are ignoring them,, or the bulbs simply aren’t up during the dry season when Deer are really hungry.

After analyzing the eating habits of the 2021 Deer Apocalypse 🦌, I’ve started moving all my flower bulbs (again). I’m moving most of the highly delicious Oxbloods, Spiders and other yummies to the back gardens. I’m leaving Deer Resistant plants upfront, under the beautiful Oak Trees. If I decide to leave any bulbs up front in Deer land, I am partnering the bulbs with Iris. Since the Deer seem to resist Iris, I’m using the Iris as a natural detourant. Daylilies and Iris are now Companions. This is a good thing because the Daylilies and Iris bloom during opposite times of the year.

As far as Winter and Spring blooming bulbs, I’m going to be planting a lot of herbs. Deer don’t like strong smells, so Oregeno, Thyme, Mint and Rosmary are perfect companion plants for bulbs.This weekend, I plan on sowing some seeds for Winter greens and herbs. I’m not going to lie, gardening is way easier without chickens. *If* I get more chickens, I plan on getting Silkies and creating a small little run for them. No more free-ranging it.

Yesterday, I moved about 50 pink Crinum, 200 Spider Lilies, hundreds of cute little Rain Lilies and dug up a bunch of Iris. I planted Purple Coneflower, Milkweed and Chocolate Daisy. The Fall has arrived, weather has cooled off and I am completely loving the days in the garden. I also have a bunch of bulbs to mail out in between 2 Ragtime and Jazz performances today. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday, and the 3rd Anniversary of the Llano Flood that wiped out our home. We are so grateful to be where we are, on the other side, marveling at what God has done for us. I could go on and on about all the miracles we experienced during those days, but that will be for another blog on another day.

Happy Gardening, my friends!