ShadyGardens Blog

April 5, 2009

Florida Anise: Evergreen, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant!

Filed under: Anise, bloom, blooms, Deer, evergreen, Florida, garden, native, nursery, proof, red, resistant, shade, Shady, shrub, tree — shadygardens @ 3:04 pm


One of my favorite native shrubs is Florida Anise. Illicium floridanum actually makes a tree about 10 feet tall.

The evergreen leaves are dark and shiny. Very unusual red flowers appear in spring and have star-like petals. Once flowers fade, large star-shaped seed pods develop–very unusual.

Drought tolerant once established, Florida Anise is a good choice for the southern garden. Native to Florida and Louisiana, Illicium Floridanum is too tender for northern gardens as it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 only.

Plant in partial shade. Enjoys wet soil, if you have some, and can take more sun if planted in a boggy area.

If you find one growing in the wild, do not dig it up to move it to your garden since Florida Anise is a threatened native species.

Illicium floridanum is not the culinary Anise used as a spice–Florida Anise is poisonous if ingested, which is why deer won’t eat it.

Enjoying the same growing conditions as azaleas, camellias, and gardenias, Florida Anise is a good companion for them.If you’ve been searching for something a little less common than a camellia or gardenia, Florida Anise is perfect.

April 4, 2009

Hellebores: Deer Proof Groundcover for Shade

Filed under: buy, Deer, evergreen, gardens, groundcover, Hellebore, Hellebores, Helleborus, nursery, online, proof, resistant, shade, Shady — shadygardens @ 2:51 pm

Hellebore, Helleborus, commonly referred to as Lenten Rose, is what I call a perfect garden plant! Rich green palmate leaves look lush even on the coldest days of winter. Blooms begin opening right after Christmas and can be enjoyed right up until the beginning of spring. And if the fact that Hellebores are evergreen and winter blooming isn’t enough for you, would you believe that deer won’t eat it?


Hellebores are very easy to grow. They do enjoy a rich soil, but are very drought tolerant plants. Our modest patch of hellebores is located in an area of the shade garden that we cannot reach with the hose.

Blooms which appear in winter and very early spring are varied in color. They can be white, green, pink, maroon, or even speckled! When the blooms begin to fade, seeds develop. Within a few years your hellebore patch can double in size.

Once the blooms are gone, new bright green new growth emerges. The palmate deep green leaves make a very attractive groundcover up to 18 inches tall.

Hellebores can be grown almost anywhere in the United States, since it’s hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.

Well-drained soil is best, so amend with compost to make your plants happy.

Try some hellebores in your garden, and they’ll make you happy as well!

January 18, 2009

Deer-Proof Gardening in the South

Filed under: Daphne, Deer, deterrant, ga, garden, Hellebore, repellant, resistant, rohdea, rosemary, South — shadygardens @ 8:14 pm

As a nursery owner, I’m often asked how I keep deer from eating the plants. Well, actually I use a number of methods, none of them expensive. Deer fencing is not an option for us, since a fence must surround the whole garden and be 10 feet tall to keep out deer. And it would be impossible for us to spray our whole garden with deer repellent after every rain or watering.

Our large black lab Shadow used to keep the deer away from everything, but now that she’s getting older, she seems to have befriended some of them, lying down with them as they eat.

The best thing to do, since as gardeners, you’ll be planting anyway, is to choose plants deer won’t eat.

A good plant type to use are those with prickly leaves or thorny branches, but deer do have the ability to pick berries and roses in spite of the thorns. I’ve even found where they’ve tasted of my holly shrubs and pyracantha, if you can believe it!

And although it’s true that deer seem to know what is poisonous to them, some plants that are poisonous to us are not so to deer, such as rhododendron and azaleas, for instance.

I hope to share with you some of our experience with this short list of plants that have proved to be not quite so tasty to the deer in our garden:

  • Acuba
  • Aspidistra
  • Barberry
  • Boxwood
  • Daffodil
  • Daphne odora
  • Dusty Miller
  • Fatsia Japanica
  • Hellebore, Helleborus
  • Loropetalum
  • Oleander
  • Osmanthus
  • Rohdea
  • Viburnum
  • Yaupon Holly


Also, all aromatic herbs, with the exception of basil, are detested by deer. And the fragrance of rosemary, which is very pleasing to us, seems to have a repellant effect on deer, causing them to go elsewhere in their search of food.

For a list of native plants that aren’t usually food for deer, please visit our other site, Plant Native.

Gardening In Deer Country

Filed under: buckeye, Deer, deterrent, garden, gardening, gardens, Magnolia, native, plant, plants, resistant, sedums, shrub — shadygardens @ 7:31 pm

As lovers of animals, we welcome all wildlife into our garden, even deer and squirrels. We enjoy seeing the squirrels run and play among the oak trees and we like it when we awake to watch deer eating fallen acorns early in the morning fog. What we do not like, though, is taking a walk in our woodland garden to find that the deer have apparently enjoyed an all night buffet in our hosta bed, or enjoyed the tender buds of our blueberry bushes that held bloom buds that would have ultimately developed into juicy berries for our children.

Shadow, or large black lab, is getting older, taking more naps and chasing deer less. Actually, I have observed her lying down on a soft bed of leaves while watching deer forage right beside her! We accept that though, since she is a very good dog.

Still, we’d like to enjoy the investments we’ve made in our garden. Plants can get expensive. So what do we do about it? Getting rid of the deer is not an option for us. Fencing must be at least 10 feet tall and surround the whole garden to be effective. Deer deterrant sprays are too expensive and are just temporary, having to be resprayed after every rain or watering.

The best option we’ve come up with is to plant things deer do not eat. Many of the plants disliked by deer come with a strong fragrance which will fool the deer into thinking there’s nothing there they want. For every plant they like, we try to plant one they don’t.

Unfortunately, many of our native plants are tasty to deer. Afterall, God created a food source for the animals when he made the animals. If you have the space, you might just want to plant plenty of the plant, hoping when they eat, they’ll leave some for you to enjoy.

But there are a few easy to find native plants deer don’t like, and here’s a list to give you some ideas:

  • Buckeye
  • Butterfly Weed
  • Coreopsis
  • Iris
  • Native Ferns
  • Magnolia
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Sedums
  • Verbena
  • Witch Hazel
  • Yarrow

The deer-resistant plant list can be lengthened if you consider adding some non-native, yet non-invasive, plants to your garden. Herbs are great, since their scent is not a favorite of deer. Rosemary has helped us alot, making a great companion plant for our native dry roadside garden. For a list of non-native plants you should consider, please visit our other site, Gardening Shady Style.

January 7, 2008

Italian Arum for the Winter Shade Garden

An unusual perennial I enjoy seeing in the winter garden is Italian Arum. Just as the Hostas disappear for the winter, the beautiful deep green leaves of Arum Italicum emerge. The variegated leaves are arrow-shaped and very unusual, sometimes growing quite large—up to 12 inches long on mature plants. Italian Arum is a tuberous perennial, which is probably why it is so hardy and tolerant of the drought so common in Georgia. The leaves are variegated green and white and last until May. Mature plants produce an Arum-type spathe in spring followed by bright red berries that remain on the stalk even after the leaves have disappeared. Italian Arum forms a nice clump of leaves about a foot tall, and is a great companion plant for any perennial that dies down for the winter. It grows well with hosta, ferns, and hellebores. As the hosta leaves emerge, Italian Arum will go to sleep for the summer, storing energy for an even better show the next fall. An added bonus is that deer will not touch Arum Italicum! To purchase this plant, please visit www.shadygardens.biz. I hope you’ll enjoy the warm spells we have in between the cold snaps by getting outside, and remember to pray for the regular rain showers to continue!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.