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Deer-Proof Your Yard With Plants
If deer are destroying your garden plants, maybe it's time to stop fighting them and learn to live with them. According to Debra Leavings, that doesn't mean you feed the deer. It means you find what they don't want to eat.
Until recently, Leavings operated Upstarts Growers Nursery, Lookingglass, Ore. For the past 10 years, she has tested countless plant varieties against her local deer herds. She has also shared test plants with friends and customers.
"It all started with a customer who had come to hate the deer she had loved when she first moved to the area," recalls Leavings. "We designed a large scale patch of different colors of lavender. She was my first distribution test of Štry it and let me know'. They left it alone, and she started adding other plants the deer wouldn't eat."
Leavings started a formal evaluation program for deer-proof plants. To make her list, a plant had to survive five years of different rain patterns and changing deer trails. She had found that both weather and changes in deer movement could cause deer to eat a plant they had previously left alone.
"You can move as little as half a mile, and deer in the two areas will eat differently," says Leavings. "I have one customer who plants hydrangea because her deer won't touch them but I can't keep them alive outside without a fence."
While a deer might take an occasional bite out of a deer-proof plant, Leavings required that they couldn't eat enough to kill the plant or alter its shape or purpose, such as eating all the flowers.
In addition to lavender, she is confident of rosemary, culinary sages, thyme and formium and nearly 50 other varieties she will guarantee. She estimates she has a couple hundred that are showing promise, but have yet to complete their five-year test.
Although no longer operating her nursery, she continues her research on deer-proof plants. She plans to start a newsletter, share her list of deer-proof plants and create a network of people interested in identifying more.
"I really want to get people away from the war mentality," says Leavings.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Debra Leavings, 1177 Dairy Loop Road, Roseburg, Ore. 97470 (ph 541 679-6530).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #3