To say I’m furious tonight would be an understatement. The deer have struck again, and again this week, relentlessly. This week’s attacks have been the most brutal by far. I normally like the deer. It’s fun to see the fawns scamper through the backyard, or to watch the watchful mother and father deer looking after the young ones. But today daddy deerest is on my list. The young buck seems to have an itch and scratching my young defenseless trees seems to satisfy him. During the summer months the deer have a fuzzy coating on their antlers and to remove it for winter time they scratch against trees with their antlers. They also do this to mark their territory. The unfortunate side effect of this behavior is that it scrapes the bark right of the tree. The cambian layer of the bark is where the tree transports water and without it the tree will essentially die of thirst. Fortunately none of the trees effected have been completely debarked. I have to keep a careful eye on the trees now to watch for disease and to observe the healing process. If the trees heal and don’t receive any further damage this fall they might live to see better days. If not there might be over $100 worth of lost trees. What trees were damaged? Two red maples, a Yoshino Cherry (yep my favorite tree) and a young dogwood I just recently planted. The deer also munched on my purple leaf plum to the point where I had to move it to a new location hopefully well away from the deer.
I never anticipated this but I will next year. It’s not that I have plants that deer like to eat, they just like to scratch. Most of my plants are deer resistant perennials, things like Russian sage, salvia, rosemary, and several others that have strong scents. To prevent further damage I put a black plastic mesh around all the trees that received damage. I also barricaded the deer trail with a bunch of dead branches to inconvenience the deer. I even tied several long branches together into a tripod formation to give the pile some height. The funny thing was I just bought a 40 pound bag of deer food to provide them an alternative to my purple leaf plum. Ah deer, you have rubbed the gardener who was about to feed you the wrong way!