Cottage Garden, Despite the Deer

IT’S WORKING. After 7 years, the perennial beds at my upstate New York place, where my wasband (thanks to Marggy Kerr for that word) lives and gardens, are finally filled in enough to suppress weeds. Two months without any weeding, and I didn’t find the situation at all dire when I was there this past weekend. An hour’s crawl-around with a bushel basket was all it took.

The island bed, in particular — a peanut-shaped bed about 25 feet long and ten feet at its widest, in the middle of the lawn — looks fantastic now, even though the poppies and irises are done and the rudbeckia yet to come.


There is no deer fencing here, amid 20 acres of woods. All the plants we put in are deer-resistant, yet oddly, this year, all the NON-deer-resistant things planted by previous owners in years past — daylilies, white hydrangeas, and hostas, which we had basically given up on — are all in bloom now with little or no evidence of deer damage.


It’s possible that an early-spring application of milorganite (an organic fertilizer that deer conveniently hate) helped, but my new theory is that three cats roaming the property (that’s Lenox, above) and leaving their droppings may scare off the deer, who don’t realize these felines are the domestic variety and not something larger and fiercer.

Anyway, it’s a theory.

4 thoughts on “Cottage Garden, Despite the Deer

  1. Do you know Kerry Mendez? She puts together the Perennially Yours,, garden symposium. Last year in Vermont, this year it was in Lake Placid, NY. She’s incredible & the most knowledgeable & passionate about perennials as anyone I’ve ever met. Including the guru Alan Armitage.

    I lectured at the symposium this year and loved hearing all the stories from northern zones. Wow. And now yours with such beauty, low maintenance AND deer. After all of that what could a checkbook garden possibly teach?

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. hi Tara, I don’t know Kerry and never heard about the perennials symposium. Thanks for telling us. From there, I went to your site and bookmarked it! You never know when experts are reading your blog…I’d better be careful;-)

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