Here’s why I love this book and will be giving away two copies signed by the author. First, it has a novel rating system for plants that gives a more nuanced view of the subject. A rating of 10 is the most deer resistant, but Ruth Rogers Clausen also includes plants with ratings of 7, 8 and 9, and tells you what level of (minor) nibbling you might expect if you choose those plants. Plants below a 7 are considered mostly ‘deer candy,’ which earn a mention in the book as plants to avoid.
Ruth devotes two pages of text plus photos to each of the 50 deer resistant plants that she features. She makes the case that deer resistant plants can be just as showy as the deer candy plants, and even includes Peony on her “50 most beautiful” list, although it gets a rating of 7-10 which means “deer sometimes nip off flower buds but leave foliage alone”. One of my favorite shrubs, purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) is on her list, with a rating of 8-10. It’s also nice to see an evergreen that deer seldom browse: Russian cypress.
For each featured plant she gives growing and cultural information, design ideas and companion plant suggestions, which are also deer resistant plants. She includes color photographs taken by nature photographer Alan Detrick. Plants are grouped by Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Ferns, Bulbs, Herbs and Grasses. All plants are suitable for USDA Zones 3-7 (except the Annuals she includes).
Ruth offers some rules of thumb about plants that deer generally don’t like. Fuzzy-leaved plants such as Lamb’s Ear; aromatic plants such as sage, rosemary, ornamental onions, and lilacs; tough, leathery and fibrous foliage such as is found on ferns, ornamental grasses, and pachysandra; spiny or bristly plants such as yucca, rugosa roses, and barberry.
About Ruth Rogers Clausen
Ruth Rogers Clausen’s Perennials for American Gardens received the 1990 Quill and Trowel Award from the Garden Writers Association. She has also written for the American Garden guide series: Perennial Gardening with the New York Botanical Garden, Annual Gardening with the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Trees with the Chicago Botanic Garden. Her Dreamscaping was published by Hearst Books.