Garden Photo of the Day

Gregg & Kindra’s deer-friendly garden in Ohio

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger

Today’s photos are from Gregg and Kindra Bolsinger in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gregg says, “My wife and I garden in suburbia, on a one-acre lot. Our lot started as the typical builder lot; pretty flat, grassy, with a small stand of wild locust and hackberry trees.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger

We’re in Cincinnati, zone 6. Like many gardeners, we have been forced to co-exist with the increasing deer population. We lose a few small trees, perrenials and countless blooms from various plants every year. Every trip to the nursery is a mental exercise of “now, what plants are deer resistant?” It’s not uncommon to see a half dozen deer roaming at dawn or dusk around the neighborhood.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger

However, what distinguishes us from many typical gardeners is that we truly enjoy the deer. How can you not appreciate a 110-200-pound animal that somehow raises a family in your backyard? They’re beautiful to watch grazing in the yard (the beds, not so much!) and can stop me dead in my tracks as I catch a glimpse of one from the window. For the past 5 years we have had fawns born in our yard. It’s always a surprise to discover them, and usually it’s when we’ve been working in the yard only to discover them a few yards away.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger

Anyway, I thought everyone might enjoy the other side of a nice garden; one in harmony with the deer, and not a fortress or aromatic barrier against them. It’s taken us about 7 years, but deer resistant gardening can result in a nice looking garden. Included are our 2012 season of new fawns, an unidentified tree frog/hackberry bark (Can you find it?) pic, a sweet autumn clematis(20′ tall), and finally, a pic of my wife posing at our new ‘bridge’ with Haley, our rescue dog.”

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger

Gregg, that bark photo had me stumped for a minute! Before I read you email, I thought you were just sharing some interesting bark! So cool, and your garden is just gorgeous. The fawns, as much as I hesitate to say it, considering the typical gardener/deer relationship, are incredibly cute. And I have a feeling that Tractor1 will approve of this post…

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Gregg & Kindra Bolsinger

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  1. Aarchman07030 09/21/2012

    In addition to a singularly beautiful and elegant garden, you and your wife appear to have remarkably generous and caring spirits, for which I thank and congratulate you. Your desire to live in harmony with nature does you both great credit. Add in a rescue dog and you guys are my heroes of the day!

  2. carpiano 09/21/2012

    love, love, love! Ganking picture of your bridge as I make plans and work on finishing my dry stream in Chicagoland this fall. I wish each picture was captioned individually, Michelle.

  3. Jay_Sifford 09/21/2012

    Beautiful design, beautiful plants. Oh, what I would do with that much open space!

  4. user-258617 09/21/2012

    Gregg and Kindra, your love of nature and kindness to animals just jump off the page, no wonder the deer choose your yard to foal.They must instinctively trust you.May there be more people like you in the world! And Haley! What a ham! I've never seen such a happy dog-smile.How do the deer and Haley react to each other? Kudos to you both-you made my day and I will forward your story to my friends so that you can make their day as well.

  5. Steepdrive 09/21/2012

    Nice garden. You some pretty panoramas there to enjoy.

    I live on 8 acres and the deer can have all they want on the 7 acres I don't touch. And though I know I moved in on their territory I have no qualms at putting on the Liquid Fence once a month to train them to keep out of my acre and stick to theirs. And they do learn very well. This doesn't mean that we don't see them as they pass through the backyard occasionally especially when the fawns are first exploring. I look up sometimes from my desk here and there they are right outside the window. It is a magical sight always.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/21/2012

    Gregg and Kindra it's amazing to me how your one acre in suburbia looks so much more extensive. The area past your bridge looks like it could go on forever in a very inviting way..."ha," the deer say, "tell us about it". Congratulations on creating a beautiful garden and a magical habitat for nature's miracles.

  7. greenthumblonde 09/21/2012

    This has to be one of my favorite posts of all time. And I read every one, every day. You have a beautiful garden and an attitude to match. And I see some un-nibbled hostas. I think the deer have perhaps restrained themselves just a little bit, in honor of your positive approach.

  8. GrnThum 09/21/2012

    So glad to see another gardener who loves the deer! I, too am captivated by their beauty and have been methodically removing the yummiest plants in my accessible front garden so that it's less enticing to their munching as it's right on their walkway through the neighborhood. My rescue collies seem to keep them from jumping my short 4' fence in the back. Living in harmony with critters is the only way to go. Kudos, guys!

  9. tractor1 09/21/2012

    I definitely approve, Michelle, and as usual you always save the best for last. This glorious acre will keep me happy over the weekend, as I intend to return often to see what I missed. As Meander1 says this property looks like a lot more than one acre, and perfectly landscaped with open space in balance with planted areas. I love that understated bridge, proving less is more. I especially like the view from the pergola that also includes the bridge. And of course what more can I add about all those amazing critters, they're all fabulous. And that's the same tree frog that I encountered while removing a lightening struck tree last weekend, it splattered itself on my head and at first I didn't know what it was. Thank you Gregg and Kindra.

  10. Vespasia 09/21/2012

    Absolutely wonderful, I too love deer and we get them in the garden but as we live on a deep wooded ravine we do not get babies born in the garden, how exciting that must be. Your garden is beautiful, I love the difference between the casual and more formal areas you have put a lot of thought and love into your garden, not to mention the work! More pictures please!

  11. MichelleGervais 09/21/2012

    Hey guys--I've been getting lots of requests for more captions lately. I'd love to include them, but the fact is, if you don't give 'em to me, I can't post 'em. I'm definitely not leaving them out on purpose. That said, don't think you HAVE to include them to submit pics of your garden. Keep those photos coming!

  12. wittyone 09/21/2012

    Since I live in a deer clogged small town I'm interested in what deer-resistant plants you utilize. And how do you keep them away from those lovely hostas in that one picture? I wish I could emulate your attitude toward the deer but with so many around it's quite difficult. They are just everywhere and totally unafraid of people. A neighbor two houses down from me has seven (count 'em!) deer that sleep in her backyard on a regular basis and I have three deer trails that cross my yard (two in the back and one in the front). Hard to be deer friendly with that scenario.

  13. joycedaffodilhill 09/21/2012

    I believe that AArchman07030 says it all, you are a remarkable spirit and generous with all things. My husband and I loved the "sweep" of the grounds in allowing a hint of mystery just around the corner. When we moved here 30 years ago it was country (an old apple orchard) and deer used to come to the door for food. Urban sprawl and we miss them, although their eating the tenderest of plants and rolling in the flower beds brought on another emotion. Fawns rollicking in the yard was a wonderful sight, we miss it. Thanks for sharing.

  14. soilgoil 09/21/2012

    Gregg and Kindra, I love everything about your post. As one who has gardened among deer and other wildlife for decades, I so appreciate your attitude. After all, they were here first. And your garden is stunning! Amazing that you've given one suburban acre the feeling of a country estate. While I always enjoy perusing garden photos, it's nice to see one of the gardeners and her happy dog pictured, too.

  15. passwords 09/21/2012

    Boy, I'm good! I found that frog right away. There is something to be said about watching wildlife, they are just enchanting to watch. Your yard is lovely. You've had a lot of ground to cover and have done a wonderful job of it.

  16. Hortus5 09/22/2012

    The Deer Whisperer. I see a movie deal in your future!! Lovely garden and post.

  17. greggkindra 09/23/2012

    A sincere THANK YOU to ALL of you who took the time to convey your kind words. Your reception was amazing and so appreciated by Kindra and I.

    It is fantastic to hear from so many fellow animal lovers within the gardening crowd. Not surprising, I guess. As gardeners, we're certainly in tune with the outdoors; its cycles, perfections and imperfections, as well as its inhabitants, big and small. Who would have thought tractor1 and I took note of the same type of tree frog, probably many states apart.

    I used to think I was somewhat alone in appreciating the deer, thus my submission. I couldn't be happier to, clearly, be so wrong. Kudos to you all!

    Michelle, thanks for considering my yard worthy of your fine blog.

    Gerri, thanks for being my gardening buddy.


  18. delancey 09/30/2012

    Gregg & Kindra:

    This garden is what mine wants to be when it grows up! I've been adding native plants and tough perennials, and I, too, welcome the animals. There is a large wooded area between our busy street at the top of the hill, and the busy commercial street at the bottom. We see birds and squirrels, and from our windows: the occasional raccoon, fox, deer, groundhog, or skunk.
    I've been thinking a small brige over a dry stream bed would look good in our garden, so thanks for showing us yours: it may get copied...

    Michelle: keep up the good work!

  19. NevadaSue 12/13/2012

    Gregg and Kindra, I so love your garden and although mine could never look like that because i live in Nevada I have gained many ideas to incorporate. Wonderful rock stream and love the natural woodsy feel you have created. It is so neat you have allowed the deer to stay and they have rewarded you well with feeling safe enough to have their young in your midst. Here in Nevada it is the wild horses that wander through and eat the native indian rice grasses.

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