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What if you could buy plants this spring that nurture native bees, butterflies and birds, while at the same time keeping your garden off the menu at the local Deer Café?
It can be done. For instance, when you plant butterfly weed, swamp milkweed and common milkweed, your garden helps the monarch butterfly to survive. Yet deer do not like the members of the milkweed family, Asclepias.
This is but one example of how our home and community landscapes can make a positive difference for native pollinators with plant selections. Luckily, there are more examples like this.
The following lists contain only southern New England native plants, all of very high value to the birds and pollinators in our area. At the same time, each of these plants has shown itself worthy of the label "deer-resistant."
Note to plant-seekers: Use the botanical name listed next to each common name to make selections. Common names are easily confused. For instance, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is not the same as butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). The first word in the name represents the genus, which is the broader group to which plants from all over the world may belong. It is the second word in the name that represents our local species, the specific plant that evolved in our landscape alongside our local pollinators.
Ten deer-resistant native
perennials for sun:
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, A. verticillata, A. syriaca)
Blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis)
Lance-leaved tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Bee balm aka Wild Bergamot (Monard fistulosa)
Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium or P. muticum)
Ten deer-resistant native
perennials, part shade:
Anemone (Anemone canadensis)
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Yellow wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)
Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum)
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
False Solomon's seal (Maianthemum racemosum)
Solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
Wild stone crop (Sedum ternatum)
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
Blue-stemmed or axillary goldenrod (Solidago caesia) Goldenrod does not cause hay fever, but it does resist deer.
Five native deer-resistant evergreen shrubs for sun:
Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
Grey owl juniper (Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl')
Common juniper (Juniperus communis)
Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
Dwarf white pine (Pinus strobus 'nana', 'prostrata', pendula', 'globosa')
Four native deer-resistant flowering shrubs for sun:
Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa)
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
Red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea)
Blueberry (Vaccinum corymbosum, V. angustifolium)
Five small native trees that deer don't like:
Dwarf river birch (Betula nigra 'Little King')
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis, A. arborea, A. canadensis)
Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
And though they are not included in the lists, don't forget that ferns and ornamental grasses-of which we have many fine native examples-are almost universally deer-resistant.
All of these plants are available in garden centers, particularly independents. And if you're ready for a little botanical adventure travel, visit the all-native nurseries around southern New England: Woodland Trails in Eastford, CT, Earthtones in Woodbury, CT, Nasami Farm in Whately, MA, Project Native in Housatonic MA, or Garden-in-the-Woods in Framingham, MA.
In addition, visit the all-native plant sales of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society on May 10 and June 7 at University of Rhode Island's East Farm, Rt. 108, South Kingston.
KATHY CONNOLLY IS A GARDEN AND LANDSCAPE COACH, WRITER AND SPEAKER WHO OFFERS FREQUENT SEMINARS ON NATIVE PLANTS AS WELL AS DEER-RESISTANT LANDSCAPE DESIGN.