CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I live in a house full of deer hunters. This may turn off some of my readers, but c'mon, it's West Virginia. And all of the meat that we don't eat goes to good use -- it's given to friends and to programs that feed the less fortunate.
All of the deer talk and watching the herd gallop across my front lawn for the past few weeks reminded me to survey the damage from those white-tailed wonders. Here are a couple of the plants that are not only surviving, but are thriving.
Nandina (heavenly bamboo)
This is a true survivor. According to the "Southern Living Garden Book," old plants are often seen growing in cemeteries, overgrown gardens or on abandoned home sites, where they fruit and flower for decades with absolutely no care. Nandina takes sun or shade and tolerates drought, though well-drained soil is essential. It has no serious pests and is hardy everywhere.
Nandina belongs to the barberry family but is reminiscent of bamboo in its lightly branched, canelike stems and delicate, fine-textured foliage.
I have 'Firepower' and it grows to 2 feet tall and wide, and the foliage is red-tinged in the summer and bright red in the winter.
There are also a few 'Woods Dwarf' plants in my front garden -- they are dense, 1- to 2-foot-tall plants, with fall colors in crimson orange and scarlet.
Some people hate this plant because it is so easy, so familiar. Some cultivars have been called "nice gas station plants." This shrub laughs at drought, shrugs off pollution and is immune to everything. I've never been a plant snob, so I just love this one. And the deer don't like it. Good fit for me.
This is a diverse group of plants and we have several cultivars. Across the back terrace, there are the Burkwoods, deciduous in cold areas, nearly evergreen everywhere else. Ours lose their leaves at some point in the winter, but keep some interest for much of the year. We put them in in the early '90s, and they are 10 feet tall and almost as wide. They form a wonderful wall of fragrance in the spring -- dense, 4-inch clusters of pink buds will open to white blossoms very early in the season with a beautiful, strong scent.
I've added a Korean spice viburnum that has a loose, open habit -- not as dense as the Burkwood. It's smaller, and has the same sweet scent in the spring. I don't like it as well as the Burkwood. There's a fragrant snowball viburnum that has dull gray-green leaves, and has long-lasting, waxy blooms that are in 5-inch clusters. Great scent.
While the garden books don't note the viburnum as heavily fruiting, I did read where the heaviest fruit set occurs when several different named selections that bloom at the same time are planted together. That's what happens in our yard.