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Design

Deer-Resistant Combinations

If constant browsing has you thinking you can’t have a garden that looks nice, we have some solutions for you

Fine Gardening - Issue 190

One of my greatest challenges as a designer and deer-plagued gardener is unpredictability. There are no rules. No guarantees. Just guidelines. I’ve watched deer devour thorny shrubs and trample fragrant lavender in order to reach the roses behind them. And tastes vary with the herd, season, climate, and availability.

Diversity seems to be key to disrupting their fickle taste-testing—which is a great excuse to experiment with the combinations shown here, all of which have survived multiple seasons with less-than-fatal browsing.

Exuberant, but contained

Forced restraint is the theme here. Flowering flannelbush is espaliered against the house walls; ‘Fireglow’ spurge is corralled by surrounding paving stones; decorative containers encase tender plants, ensuring size control as well as ease of transport; and a berried cotoneaster is carefully pruned to resemble a bejeweled octopus. On the ground plane, fragrant ‘Elfin’ thyme creeps between flagstones, softening the patio while also contrasting with…

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