By Bob Jamison

          Texas is fortunate to have one of the largest populations of wild deer in the country.  Game management, enforcement and abiding sportsmen are likely the reason. This deer population increase has been a great boost to farmers and ranchers that are able to recoup falling crop prices and increase fuel and labor cost with hunting lease agreements. But, some adjustments for planting might need to be made.

          Ardent gardeners and other plant lovers often express their consternation with the alarming discovery that their young pear trees suddenly have no leaves and the beautiful patio ------ no longer decorate the area. They have been enjoyed however, by deer.

          As the expanding number of deer is seen, less house plants are likely to survive. Unless, of course, you carefully select the very plants the deer don’t care for; and there are many. Repellants sometimes work such as patented sprays, human hair and fences. Nylon mesh fences are said to work for small gardens and others have tried electric cattle fences with minimal success.  

          Victoria, Texas newspaper columnist, Laurie Garretson listed a number of plants that are considered on the ‘don’t eat’ list of deer. However, she explains that none are completely safe if deer are hungry. Here are a few: Butterfly Bush, Yucca, Oleander, Barberry, Box Wood and Sage. Trees include: Desert Willow, Fig, Mountain laurel, Texas buckeye, and Persimmon. Flowers include: Verbena, Marigolds, Four o’clocks, Morning glory, Begonia, Snapdragon, Rosemary, Yarrow, Shasta daisy, Coreopsis, Mint, Bee balm, Butterfly weed, Sage and tansy.

          Garretson went on to say that placing the ‘don’t eat’ plants among others might help keeping the deer out of your favorite plant areas. She also claims that deer will “walk a mile” for Rose plants and vegetables.

          My favorite ‘don’t eat’ plants are citrus trees and bushes. They are evergreen that look healthy and besides, the fruit they produce is generally excellent.

          Scare Crows and dogs have little lasting effect in some cases. Dogs have been seen running deer and shortly afterwards the deer are being seen running the dogs! Sounds like music sometimes work but again, deer become used to that as well as seeing people.

          There are some of us that enjoy watching deer come up to an automatic deer feeder. There is something to be said for that as they apparently listen for the rattling sound of the timed discharge of grain then the deer will often be seen running to get to the food before others. It is especially fun to watch them as they carefully watch when they first bring their new born spotted fawns to the feeder. Hardly there is anything more beautiful.

          To have the fun of watching deer as well as other animals and birds at your feeder, consider that your “Deer Friends” are not beyond to having a snack or desert on the side. And that side might be in your garden.