It’s the season for welcoming family and friends to our homes. However, we don’t greet all creatures great and small with open arms. Here are three informative books for your holiday gift list— to give or to get. If the noise you hear isn’t the charming clatter of eight tiny reindeer on your roof but the nasty clunk of deer hooves way too near your greenhouse—browsing again—I invite you to settle down for a long winter’s night with one of these three volumes.
One caveat— the critters haven’t read the books. Wild animal behavior is highly variable, from region to region, and even within neighborhoods. Your local deer may find coral bells (Heuchera ssp.) a delightful gourmet delicacy, even though these perennials are listed in two out of the three books as “deer resistant.” Don’t let that spoil the authors’ credibility. Find deterrents that work for you by using these well-researched publications as guidelines.
Deerproofing Your Yard and Garden (Story Publishing, 2005) Rhonda Massingham Hart reviews a wide range of deer-thwarting techniques. The fencing section at the back of the book—the only sure-fire deer deterrent—is excellent, with line drawings and great advice. She also discusses deer psychology and proclivities. For instance, she notes that deer have limited eyesight for judging height. So instead of the usual solid top fence rail, she suggests constructing a more indistinct top line, perhaps with a single wire or hard-to-see netting.
Deer-Resistant Landscaping: Proven advice and strategies for outwitting deer and 20 other pesky mammals (Rodale Books, 2008) Neil Soderstrom covers the U.S. to bring you solid information about all kinds of animals that may plague your garden. Soderstrom also discusses legal and environmentally sound methods for dispatching many of them. These are not practicalities often found in other books—an added value for anyone who identifies with Bill Murray in the movie Caddyshack.
50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants: The prettiest annuals, perennials, bulbs, and shrubs that deer don’t eat (Timber Press, 2011) Ruth Rogers Clausen and photographer Alan L.Detrick have produced a compendium of plant descriptions and pictures that are tasty to readers, but—we hope—not to deer. Ms. Clausen employs a friendly accessible approach, listing common names first, followed by Latin. She writes with a designer’s eye. She adds so many companion planting suggestions, her discussions extend generously far beyond the original 50 plants of the title.
May all your holidays be bright—and critter-free.