Partly sunny

McCREARY: Are deer browsing in your garden?

After a couple years of thinking that the deer population had somewhat declined, I'm now witnessing an explosion of bucks in my garden. A gang of four has moved in, quite comfortably napping all hours of the day, nibbling here and there at night, and hopefully feeling frustrated at the dearth of delicacies available.

Not that there isn't a plethora of plants to tempt them. Quite the contrary.

Dozens of ornamental species lie in wait 24/7, but all in the unfenced areas have been carefully selected to be safe from destruction, though some show signs of being sampled and rejected.

With grasslands and dry summer vegetation as the only food source many decades ago, deer populations remained low. But as human communities sprawled and more and more succulent shrubs and perennials appeared at every turn, deer herds multiplied.

Finding plants to suit our own gardens takes a bit of experimentation, since deer tastes vary in different locales. A Santa Rosa gardener I know sets out small plants in nursery containers one at a time on what she calls her sacrificial rock to see how they fare before she invests in a quantity.

When we do happen upon species we like, they usually come with a bonus: Many are also drought-


<IP0>Native or not

<MC>If you walk along verdant North Coast beaches, you'll see native plants untouched by browsing deer — sea thrift (Armeria), wallflowers (Erysimum), iris, sandhill sage (Artemisia pycnocephala), lupines, and other plants familiar also in gardens.

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