Monday, November 30, 2009

If they only ate brown stuff, it wouldn't be so bad

I looked closely and I have no idea what this cute little fellow is eating, but he and his relations have the potential to damage our collections either by eating the plants outright or by scraping them with their antlers. Fortunately, the Arboretum is fenced and we have only a few deer living on our 440+ acres.

Twenty years ago there was a long list of plants deer didn't eat. As their population density has increased, most of those plants have fallen away and now we're left with the Berberidaceae and the Ranunculaceae. Nandinas, Mahonias, and Barberries (many of which ought not to be planted becuse of their invasive potential)  provide a range of shrubs, many with good winter interest. The Buttercup family contains a lot of wonderful perennials including Columbines, Hellebores, Monkshoods, and Delphiniums and also Clematis. So there are some plants left. I have heard stories though, of deer nibbling the new growth of Nandinas.

Max and Peter were on a job a few weeks ago in a quite civilized part of upper NW Washington and a buck the "size of a cow" walked under the arbor, into the garden, and approached them to a distance of about six feet.  Twice. They're young men and I wonder if our hormones are similar enough that they were reacting to potential rivals?

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