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Celebrating Eight Years of Blogging – Giveaway

Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti

Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti

This year Cool Springs Press is helping me celebrate my eight years of blogging with a Giveaway of Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass.

These have been rich years for me be cause my blog has brought so many wonderful gardeners into my life, and so many beautiful gardening experiences. With other garden bloggers I travelled to Buffalo and to Seattle and saw beautiful gardens, large and small and all different. This past summer I attended a Garden Writers Conference in Pasadena and visited amazing public gardens, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden. Amazing gardens.

Now that winter is setting in amazing gardens have to be found in places other than the outdoors. In her book of Terrariums Maria Colletti gives all the basics about ingredients, supplies, and tools, and familiar flower arranging techniques. Whether you would like to create a desert arrangement, a tropical arrangement, or a more familiar scene you will find all the inspiration and information you need. This beautifully and usefully illustrated book if full of inspiration as well as instruction

Roses at the End of the Road by Pat Leuchtman

Roses at the End of the Road by Pat Leuchtman

In addition to Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass I will also giveaway a copy of my book The Roses at the End of the Road, which is now a history of our life and gardens at the End of the Road in Heath, a history that ended when we  bought a new house in Greenfield.

To win this Giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment below and I will have a drawing on December 14. I will notify the winner and get the address for mailing the books.

Time to Think About Spring and Spring Blooming Bulbs


Narcissus poeticus

While attending a wonderful art show featuring my friend Trina Sternstein’s paintings at the Forbes Library I couldn’t help using the library services as well. I was searching in the garden section for a book on trees, but I came away with Anna Pavord’s big book, Bulbs. When I got home I found that the mailbox was full of bulb catalogs, from John Scheepers, Van Engelen, and Old House Gardens.

That made for a very dangerous night, browsing through the book with its gorgeous photographs of the many faces of the allium to the three faces of Zantedeschia or calla lily. Can you imagine what kind of a list I could have made up going from the book to search through the catalogs to see if I could find the petite Allium flavum with its delicate and airy yellow blossoms in any of the catalogs..

In fact  did find A. flavum listed in Van Engelen, but with no photograph, and in Scheepers with a tiny photo. I would have passed both by if Pavord had not directed me to search for this lovely thing. Giant alliums like :Mount Everest and the violet-purple Early Emperor, have their place, but I just fell in love with this dwarf allium.

Another series of photographs that caught my eye was of the Erythronium family, dogstooth violet or trout lily. Pavord shows pink, white and yellow varieties, and varieties with severely reflexed petals. They are all lovely, and very hardy. Our climate and acid soil suit them to a T. I found that Scheepers offers only the yellow Erythronium pagoda which is fine with me. It comes with the urgent direction to plant it immediately upon arrival. Trout lilies cannot dry out. They need to be planted in rich soil in light shade. Right away. And watered well.

Here is the problem with bulbs. Each genus, narcissus, tulip, allium, lily etcera, etcetera, etcetera, comes with such a variety of form that no catalog can  carry all for sale, or truly capture the full beauty of each.

On the other hand, each variety, no matter how limited by lists or photos in a catalog, is beautiful. I don’t know if there is any such thing as an ugly bulb, or one that you would be unhappy with, only given that it is hardy in your garden.

Many bulbs bring us color and a promise of warm weather early in the spring. I have patches of snowdrops growing in grass down below the vegetable garden that bloom even while there is some snow on the ground. Because I rarely walked down in that direction so early in the season, I dug up a few last year and moved them into the Herb Bed in front of the house. I do see them earlier now, but I realize that I want a LOT of snowdrops in view. Like crocuses these tiny plants really cry out to be planted in masses.

I also try to remember to have the grass cut short late in the season, just so the snowdrops won’t have to push their way through so much dead grassy debris.

There are many ways to use bulbs in the garden. I am partial to the large family of narcissus which includes daffodils. I am especially fond of them because they are not bothered by mice or other burrowing creatures, or by deer. I plant them and I want to be the only one to cut them down.

My daffs are now mostly planted at the eastern edge of the lawn where I can let the foliage ripen after blooming and not be bothered by the tattered and brown appearance. Letting bulb foliage die back naturally is key to the survival of the bulb. The foliage makes food  for the bulb to store for next year bloom – and multiplication.

In my small attempts to limit the amount of lawn that needs to be mowed, I have planted the groundcover barren strawberry (Waldsteinia) at the farthest southeastern bit of lawn and underplanted that with daffodils. In the early spring I sprinkle compost or greensand in the areas where bulbs are just sending up tiny shoots. Do not use nitrogen rich fertilizer on bulbs.

I can handle bulbs planted with a groundcover, but I prefer not to use daffodils or tulips in a flower border because of the unattractive problem of ripening foliage.

Some people plant wonderful bulb-only borders that are a glory in the spring, and then plant annuals in that space when the old bulb foliage can be cut down.

All bulbs need to be planted in well drained soil. Most of them like sun. Fortunately in the spring deciduous trees are leafless so there is sufficient sun even in woodland areas. All bulbs use their foliage to gather strength for the following year so foliage must ripen for several weeks after bloom.

Having said that, I realize I do have some bulbs in the Lawn Beds, alliums, and lilies like Casa Blanca and Black Beauty. These have tall stems that can be cut back by a third after blooming. That late in the season the stems that remain are not very noticeable among all the other mid and late summer foliage.

Do you have favorite bulbs? How do you use them in your garden? I would be happy to hear from other gardeners by email at  Hope to hear from you.

Between the Rows October 6, 2012

Gardening in a Straw Bale

Tomatoes planted in a strawbale

When I visited Daniel Botkin of Laughing Dog Farm some time ago, he showed me how he did a lot of planting in goat manure-laced hay. I envied his access to so much bedding because it does provide plants with nutrition and eliminates weeds. No fertilizing. No weeding. He is a lucky man to have manured goat bedding from his barn, as well and old hay bales. He said he doesn’t use the hay bales for planting until they have aged and rotted for a year. Any weed seeds would have sprouted and then died before he used it for planting.

Lacking goat bedding, I thought I would try planting in a straw bale which seems to be one of the new trends this year. No fertilizing and no weeds. Actually I have to confess that I tried this project the summer of 2010, but failed miserably, so I know all the mistakes there are to make.

The first mistake I made was not locating my bale where I would see it and remember to water it every day, just as I would water any container planting.

The second mistake was not preparing the straw bale ahead of time, which is to say, not keeping it soaked for two weeks to start the rotting process.

This time I located the straw bale right at the end of my herb bed in front of the house, practically right next to the water spigot.  I set it on top of a couple of layers of plastic sheeting to prevent weeds from growing into it. Every day for two weeks I watered the bale, sometimes letting water drip slowly into it, and sometimes pushing the hose nozzle deeper into the bale  from different angles. Hay and straw are very firmly packed into their bales and they can absorb a lot of water.

You can plant anything you want in a straw bale, and this technique is useful if you have limited space, really poor soil, or even no soil. You can just set the bale on a cement walkway.

This week I bought a six pack of Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, two of which will be planted in my bale. The mature plants can just rest on the bale and I won’t have to worry about the tomatoes rotting on wet soil.

So far things had been going well. No hard work at all. However, now I had to cut two planting holes into the bale. I pressed my husband Henry into service and gave him my Hori knife, a big, sharp serrated knife designed for use in the garden.

Once again, a reminder. A packed straw bale is very dense. Cutting into it is very difficult even with a Hori knife. It didn’t help that  it started to rain as he worked. The knife became slippery – and slipped. Blood everywhere, but no stitches required. First aid attended to with a necessarily absorbent bandage, he retired. I put the knife aside and pulled enough straw out of the holes he had hacked out to hold a couple of quarts (approximately) of compost for planting.

After half filling the holes with compost, I followed my usual tomato planting technique. I removed the bottom couple of branchlets from my two seedlings and put one in each hole deep enough to cover at least half the stem, and watering as I would any half planted seedling. I added more compost to fill the hole, and watered again.

The rain is continuing, on and off, as I write, but I will continue to water the straw bale and not depend only on rainfall. I will keep you posted on the progress of the tomatoes.

I already used the straw I pulled out of the bale to use as mulch in the vegetable garden. I am wondering if I can get two planting seasons out of the bale, or if it will be suitable only for mulch in the spring. More information gathering required.

I like this addition to the herb bed which runs along nearly two thirds of the front of our house. Part of the final third is the Early Garden where I planted greens under floating row covers this spring. The row covers have a dual purpose, to allow a jump on the growing season, and especially to foil the rabbits that ate most of my garden last year.

We have seen the rabbits, and seen the damage they did to ornamental alliums in the Lawn Beds, so I know they are around and hungry, but they have not been able to get my beautiful lettuces.

We have been eating delicious green salads out of the Early Garden for the past two weeks which is a record for us. Although I am no longer worried about frost, I am keeping the floating row covers on. They do actually float over the tops of the mature lettuces without constraining them in any way. The rabbits remain foiled.

Between the Rows  May 26, 2012


Chicken Encyclopedia – Storey Blog Tour & Giveaway

The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow

The chicken is a familiar farm animal, but even those who are setting up backyard flocks may not be aware of the more arcane facts of their life. Some may not be aware of the most basic facts of their biology. I cannot count the number of times people have told me they would love to have chickens producing eggs in the backyard, but they just cannot stand the thought of having a rooster. BASIC FACT: Hens, like women everywhere, do not need a male to produce eggs. Hens, like women everywhere, do need a male to produce a baby.

Chicks in mailing box - keeping each other warm

Related Basic Facts: A rooster fertilizes an egg before it has a shell and before it is laid in the nest. The white of the fertilized egg is what becomes the chick, while the yolk is there to nourish the chick as it develops. That is why day old chicks can be sent to a new chicken farmer in  the mail. The newly hatched chick needs no food or water for three days. Of course, those of us who have picked up a cheerily cheeping box of chicks from the post office are happy to get them into their brooding area as quickly as possible, to give them the warmth that is essential, as well as food and water.

Chicks in brooder box - warm, fed and watered

Gail Damerow’s Chicken Encyclopedia published by Storey will answer hundreds of other questions about chickens. Some of the answers will help you decide what kind of flock you want to have. There are always aesthetics. So many breeds from big handsomely feathered birds like the Faverolle to the Silkie to a nearly featherless hybrid.

Chicken Encyclopedia - Comb Styles

Even the shape of their combs might influence your choice. There is the familiar single comb, but also rose combs, pea combs, strawberry and pea combs.

When I first had chickens the winters were colder than they are now. Some of the birds with their tall single combs would get frostbitten which was alarming to see in January, but they always recovered by June. Chickens with smaller combs like the rose comb did not suffer as much from the cold. Nowadays it doesn’t seem to be an issue at all.


I have chosen different breeds over the years, fat golden Buff Orpingtons, cheerful Barred Rocks, elegant Silver Laced Wyandottes and others. It is nice to have a pretty mixed flock clucking around but the last few years I have only ordered Araucanas/Americanas, which is the way Murray McMurray hatchery labels and sells them. These are the chickens that lay those pretty blue eggs. I haven’t chosen them because of the prettiness of the eggs, but because they are such good layers, easily laying reliably into their third year. What I give up is a mixed flock of beautifully feathered birds. I don’t think Araucans are the most attractive birds you can get, but I decided I need to be practical in getting more eggs for my buck.

This post is part of Storey’s virtual blog tour. Be sure to visit the other bloggers who are giving more information and responses to the Chicken Encyclopedia.  Also, you can win a copy of this fascinating book by leaving a comment below by midnight March 14. Be sure I have your email address, and I’ll announce the winner, chosen randomly, on March 15.  Storey will send your copy of the Chicken Encyclopedia once I have your mailing address.  The other blogs are also having Giveaways so you have many chances to win this great book. Thank you Storey!

2-Mar     For the Love of Chickens
3-Mar    Vintage Garden Gal
4-Mar    The Garden Roof Coop
5-Mar    Common Weeder
6-Mar    Chickens in the Road
7-Mar    Garden Rant
8-Mar    Fresh Eggs Daily
9-Mar    My Pet Chicken Blog
10-Mar    Coop Thoughts
11-Mar    BoHo Farm and Home
12-Mar    Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs
13-Mar    A Charlotte Garden
14-Mar    Farm Fresh Fun
15-Mar    The HenCam
16-Mar    Life on a Southern Farm
17-Mar    ADozenGirlz, the Chicken Chick
18-Mar    North Coast Gardening

Storey Publishing has its own blog which is full of information and fun. I know because I once contributed some chicken lore. I guess I just did a little crowing there.

Foliage Follow Up – January 2012

Orchid cactus

I rarely participate in Foliage Follow-up, but Pam Penick at Digging has prompted me to take a good look at the foliage around me at this time of the year.

I have owned this orchid cactus (Epiphyllum) for a number of years. I pay almost no attention to it which is shameful, because it would bloom regularly and magnificently if I did. You can see I don’t even give it the pedestal it deserves. For the past year it has lived in a bright rarely heated guest room where it seems happy even if it doesn’t bloom.

I am making a new year’s resolution to prune it back and repot it in the spring.  I think I will go upstairs and prune it this very morning.

I do have other succulents. Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus which are among the easiest plants to grow.  They even tell you when they need watering. Before any serious damage is done to the plant the succulent ‘leaves’ will begin to shrivel slightly and feel limp. It just takes regular watering to bring it back into fine fettle.

Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera bridgesii

This particular Christmas cactus lives in my bedroom, right next to a plump jade tree.

Jade tree, Cassula ovata

This jade tree is over 20 years old. My daughter cared for it during the two separate years we were living in China. She is as reluctant to prune as I am, and it grew so much more heavily on one side that the plant was leaning so dangerously that she propped up the stem with a small flower pot.  I finally did prune it  so that it was not only more attractive, but safer in its pot. Then a couple of years ago I left it right next to a north window in our unheated Great Room for the winter and I thought I had killed it for sure. It never got watered and became shrivelled and frozen, but I resurrected it in the spring when I gave it a radical pruning and watered it on a regular schedule. The leaves are now fat and healthy, if a bit dusty.

This citrus scented geranium is another plant I have had for several years. Still full of life, but another plant that is in serious need of pruning and repotting. Next month. I promise. I will also be able to take cuttings and start raising another generation.

Scented geranium roseScented geranium foliage takes many different forms. Check the online catalogs like Hobbs Farm and Logee’s Greenhouse to see the full range. Scented geraniums do produce small flowers, but it is the scented foliage that is the appeal.

Prostrate rosemary

This prostrate rosemary did beautifully in its pot out on the entry walk all summer where it is hot and sunny. I brought it in and put in in the south window of the unheated Great Room which did go down below freezing yesterday, but it still looks fine. Unlike my upright rosemary which got nipped by cold in the Great Room earlier in the season and which I am trying to revive in a warmer, but still cool, room.

This is what foliage looks like outdoors this morning. I am glad for the snow cover before temperatures plummeted. Four degrees above zero this morning.

Pam, thank you so much for Foliage Follow-Up.


We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Laura Bell! Succulent Container Gardens and The Roses at the End of the Road will be on their way to you – as soon as I get an address. I know you will enjoy them. I also want to thank all the other commenters for visiting and making these past four years such an enjoyable time.

Last Day to Win

The Roses at the End of the Road

Today is the last opportunity you have to win a copy of my book about life on and off the Rose Walk, and Debra Lee Baldwin‘s book, Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants. Click here and leave a comment by midnight tonight, December 6. I will announce the winner, chosen at random tomorrow morning by 9 am.

Four years ago, on December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, I gave myself a present that was sweeter than I ever imagined.  I began this blog and began new friendships, found new ideas and resources, and great enjoyment. And all I was looking for really, was a way to document the way my garden grew. I got so much more, including the encouragement to write The Roses at the End of the Road, which gave me a new way of sharing my pleasure in the Rose Walk. And the Rose Bank. And the Shed Bed.

I’ll be sharing that pleasure in front of the Festival of Trees at Tower Square in Springfield, today from noon to 2 pm and 4 to 6 pm where I will be signing my book and chatting with rose gardeners, and potential rose gardeners. Hope to see you there.


Blogoversary Giveaway

Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin

On December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, I will celebrate my Fourth Blogaverary! It wasn’t an ideal time to start a garden blog, but I had just learned about blogs and ‘met’ Kathy at Cold Climate Gardening, Carol at May Dreams Gardens and all the Ranters at Garden Rant. I was lucky to meet such stars early on because they have taught me so much and continue to inspiremme.  I even got to meet them all at at the last two Garden Blogger Flings.

And of course the greatest gift I gave to myself that December 6th, was the opportunity to meet so many knowledgeable gardeners from all over the country. They all have something to teach me, new ideas, new perspectives and new resources. I thank the entire community of garden bloggers for their generosity in sharing with me – and with all their readers.

This year Timber Press and I are celebrating by offering a Giveaway – Debra Lee Baldwin’s new and fabulous book, Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye Catching Displays with 350 Easy Care Plants. Debra opened up a whole new world of succulents to me – which is wonderful because these easy care plants may be the only houseplants I can keep going for more than a year or two. While I have a large jade tree, orchid cactus and Christmas cactus, I am now ready to create what people in my area call a ‘dish garden’, a container planted with a variety of succulents. I never knew there were so many, and that you could fit so many into a beautifully photographed book. Plant porn!

Besides design ideas, and ways of thinking about design, Debra gives information about some of the most interesting and unusual succulents, and basic care information. This informative and inspiring book could be yours. Just leave a comment on this post by December 6 at midnight.  On December 7 I will draw a name at random and will announce the winner. If you wanted to leave a sentence or two about your experience with a succulent that would be wonderful, but all you have to do is leave a comment saying you want this book.

The Roses at the End of the Road

IN ADDITION I will include a copy of my own book, The Roses at the End of the Road which was only the barest seed of an idea when I began my blog. These essays are not about How To grow roses, but how I live among the roses in my rural community. My husband provided the charming illustrations.

I have been having a wonderful time signing my book at local events, and will be reading and  signing at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls on December 4 at 2 pm, and signing at Tower Square in Springfield right next to the festival of Trees on December 6 – my blogoversary!  I even got to show off many of my roses when I gave a talk at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, focusing on disease resistant roses.

Leave a comment and enter the Giveaway!


Heath Fair 2011

The Wealth of Heath

We moved to Heath in the fall of 1979 and attended our first Heath Fair in 1980. However, we had heard about the Fair years before when we were living on Grinnell Street in Greenfield. Deb Porter of Heath was visiting her friend (and my temporary boarder) Wendy Roberts in my kitchen, but she had to cut the visit short that day in order to race back to Heath and bake pies for the Fair.

Deb still works at the Fair in many capacities, as does her sister Pam Porter who is just finishing her stint as Co-President of the Heath Agricultural Society. The Porters have been attending and working at the Heath Fair from their childhoods, and have seen more changes than I, but we all agree that the essence of the Fair remains the same. It is a celebration of this piece of land that we are attached to, literally and emotionally, as well as a celebration of our productive, creative and cooperative community.

After moving frequently in my early years I have now lived in Heath for almost half my life. This year many exhibits and events at the Fair made me aware of the way my roots have sunk into my Heath hill and community, adding my own history to that of the town.

As usual I worked in the Friends of the Library’s 20 by 20 foot sturdy white tent filled with books for sale. I remembered the year quite some time ago when the weather was threatening and my husband and I donated the use of our 10 by 10 foot camp tent to house the sale. As it turned out the tent was needed and many sheltered among the books during a terrific storm. Using a tent for the sale became routine but it quickly outgrew our little tent.

My granddaugher Tricia Waitkus was born in July of 1986. That was the year that the Heath Fair t-shirt featured a big blue ribbon with the text – First Prize Person. What better t-shirt for to wrap around her stroller for her first Fair. She attended the Fair this year, mugging in the goat cutout. This year the Fair was also the scene of Margaret Smith Jones 100th birthday celebration with her family; Karen Brooks and Melissa Ortquist in the Music Tent sang out a birthday serenade for us all to enjoy. It is clear that while Tricia has been a First Class Person for a quarter of a century, Margaret Jones has held that title for a full century, six years more than the Heath Fair has existed.

Three years ago Pam Porter reinstituted the Speakers Tent which had been an element of the Fair during the 1940s and ‘50s. Rumor has it that noted theologians and summer Heathans Reinhold Neibuhr and Robert MacAfee Brown were among those who Spoke in those days. The speakers these days do not have such lofty reputations, but the speeches remain inspiring and practical. Young people from the Gardening the Community: Youth and Urban Agriculture project in Springfield provided inspiration as they described their gardens and bicycle delivery of produce which you can read about on their website Bob Bourke, Fair secretary, provided practical information with his talk on composting.

Rory, Sue Gruen and me

When we first began attending the Fair there was no big Solomon Temple barn, an edifice that the Historical Society had dismantled and rebuilt on the fairgrounds. Now the barn contains a collection of agricultural tools used in earlier days. The barn also houses a huge loom that was dismantled and reassembled by Bob and Sue Gruen. The two of them will be giving a talk about weaving at the Heath Historical Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 27 at 7 pm.

Sue Gruen was on hand at Saturday’s Fair to demonstrate and let fairgoers, like us, try our hand weaving on a small loom. My grandsons and I took turns gingerly shooting the shuttle through the shed.

The Exhibit Hall was filled with quilts, knitted sweaters, pies, cakes, breads, cookies, eggs, maple syrup, photographs, sculptures, beautiful jars of pickles, jams, and vegetables. My daughter Kate won a First Prize for her counted cross stitch wall hanging. She is three dollars richer.

Large organizations displays were set up against the back wall of the building. I enjoyed the Heath School Garden exhibit – and even guessed correctly that the mystery tool had nothing to do with gardening. It was a hair crimper.

I was fascinated by the beautiful signature quilt that was a part of the Ladies Aid exhibit. Theresa Peters told me that it was started about ten years ago when she was part of a quilting club, but the club did not last long and she put the unfinished quilt in a closet and forgot about it.

Last year she found it again and brought it to a Ladies Aid meeting where the ladies decided to finish it. Sometimes signature quilts are made for a special occasion such as a family moving away. The quilt is a memento of friendships. This quilt is also snapshot of connections. Anyone could sign it, they didn’t have to sew or quilt. Peters brought it to the Senior Lunch in the Community Hall for people to sign. A few of the squares are signed as memorials for people like Michael Peters and Catherine Heyl, both of whom left us too soon.

The Heath Fair has become my time to look back, but also to look forward to new ideas and projects. Never again will I be exhibitless at the Fair.

Antique tractor parade

Between the Rows   August 27, 2011


Do You Feed the Deer?

50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants

It’s been a rough year for the vegetable garden at the End of the Road. There was lots of rain in the spring which was great for all the gardens. Then rain became scarce and if I have learned anything in my years of gardening it is that vegetable gardens need regular watering to thrive and be productive.

However, a new problem this year was bunnies! We haven’t had problems with rabbits in the past, but this year we have seen them frolicking on the lawn, running across our road, and gazing at the chickens. This would be fine if they stopped at frolicking, running, and gazing, but they love beans and broccoli. They have joined the deer who ate all the pea plants this year as well as squash and the tips of my rose bushes.

With all these problems in the vegetable garden I was surprised that there were so few depredations in the ornamental gardens. That mystery was solved when I received a copy of Ruth Rogers Clausen’s informative book “50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants: The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat” with stunning and useful photographs by Alan L. Detrick published by Timber Press ($19.95). A quick look through the different categories in the book showed that my gardens are full of deer resistant plants.

Deer have become a greater problem for gardeners because the deer population has increased about twenty times over in just the past decade. At the same time towns and suburbs have spread out into deer habitats. The deer have retaliated by refusing to give up their habitats without a fight. Even my brother in a New Jersey suburb battles deer. At least I can leave my land open for hunters who I have always found to be respectful and happy to enjoy my woodlands, even if they don’t bag a deer. I also wish that the hunting season were longer, especially since natural predators like coyotes seem to be in a period of decline.

Clausen has provided a generous list of deer resistant plants that can be used in a varied garden. While she says that no plant is completely deer-proof, generalizations can be made. Deer seems to find plants with fuzzy leaves such as lamb’s ears, and licorice plant unappealing. I have to admit that although my summer squash have hairy leaves this did not entirely deter the deer this year.

Deer also find some plants like euphorbias and hellebores poisonous. The castor oil plant can make a glamorous statement in the garden, in the ground or even in a pot, but the deer will keep their distance.

Highly scented plants like culinary herbs or fragrant flowers like lilac and lily of the valley confuse deer enough they don’t stop to nibble. At the same, deer apparently know  that plants with tough foliage like peonies and Siberian iris, as well as ferns and grasses will likely be indigestible.

We are fortunate that so many beautiful plants are of absolutely no interest to deer. Let me list some of the perennials I have in my garden that are deer resistant: peonies, yarrow, lady’s mantle, astilbe, cimicifuga, salvias, Siberian iris, epimedium, and I’m trying real hard to get a false indigo, Baptisia australis, going. I also have daffodils, snowdrops, ornamental onions like the Allium ‘Globemaster,’ and autumn crocus. My herb garden is deer-proof with basils, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Clausen gives information about hardiness zone for each plant as well as size, cultural information and most helpfully a deer resistance rating. “A rating of 7 indicates that deer sometimes nip off flowers but leave the foliage alone. . . 8 indicates that just one or two flowers may be nibbled or destroyed, but the plant is otherwise left alone, as with peony . . . 9 indicates that deer occasionally browse young spring foliage, but mostly ignore the plant . . . and 10 indicate that deer very seldom browse foliage or flowers and usually avoid the plant altogether” as with Japanese painted fern.

Clausen also gives Design Tips for each plant along with suggestions for plant combinations. I think this book is a real winner.


In my calendar we have hit the middle of summer which means Fairtime. I hope I will see some of you at the Friends of the Heath Library Book Sale tent next weekend. The Heath Fair runs from Friday evening on August 19 through Sunday afternoon. You can get great food at the Fireman’s Barbecue and at the Green Building (which is currently painted red) where homemade pie a la mode is my favorite dessert. After the Fair on Sunday, August 21 you can attend the Free Harvest Supper at the Town Square in Greenfield from 4:30 – 6:30 pm for one of the best meals you will ever have. Produce is donated by area farms and volunteers turn it into scrumptious dishes. Musicians play and everyone has a great time. The meal is free, but any donations made will fund Farmer’s Market vouchers distributed through the Center for Self Reliance so hungry families can have the fresh fruit and vegetables we all need to be healthy.  ###

Between the Rows  August 13, 2011