RSS Feed

Archive for June, 2011

Book Review

Sunday, June 12th, 2011
50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants- The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat
by Ruth Rogers Clausen, Photography by Alan L. Detrick


When I heard that Ruth Clausen had written a new book, I was eager to review it, knowing Ruth as a keen plantswoman and garden designer with a wealth of knowledge.  Her award winning  book Perennials for American Gardens (co-authored with Nicolas H. Ekstrom , 1989) is one of a handful of books that I keep on the shelf in my office for easy access.   

I first met Ruth when I worked at the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.  Her credentials are impressive, trained as a horticulturist in England and a botantist in the US, she is also  a lecturer, writer and garden designer.  What I admire most about Ruth is her passion for plants, and her attention to detail.  If Ruth talks or writes about a plant, you can be sure that she speaks from personal experience.  

In her newest book, 50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants, Ruth offers a comprehensive guide for how gardeners from across the US can create spectacular gardens by using the plants she describes.  Gardening for over 30 years in Westchester County, NY where deer abound, Ruth is well acquainted with the challenges deer of all types present to gardeners.  Before she gets into specific plants Ruth writes about designing a deer resistant garden and  provides a list of plants to avoid, those  that she refers to as “deer candy” like daylilies and tulips.  Instead of lamenting what you can’t grow, she recommends we celebrate what we can grow like yarrow and daffodils.   

Pennisetum 'Fireworks' with Castor Bean, coleus and boxwood

In each section, of which there are 7, Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Ferns, Bulbs, Herbs and Grasses, she starts out with a detailed description of how to use a particular plant in your garden and offers extensive design ideas for combinations to achieve maximum impact in your landscape.  The design section alone makes this book standout,  offering  much more than just a list of deer resistant plants. For example, in the section on boxwood Ruth talks about cultivars for warmer climates as well as those for the North; the best for vertical accents, edging and borders.  She goes on to recommend other shrubs and perennials that make good companions for boxwood.   

Achillea 'Coronation Gold'

Each entry is supported by a beautiful photograph although,  I think having additional photos of some of the combinations she recommends would make the book even stronger. A box titled Quick Look, addresses hardiness, height and spread and a Deer resistance rating.  Each plant is rated on a scale from 7 to 10, with 10 being the best (most resistant)  meaning deer rarely browse foliage or flowers and usually avoid the plant.  A plant rated a 7 is one from which deer sometimes nip off flowers but leave foliage alone.  Plants that are rated lower than 7 or those that deer regularly browse are not included in this book.

Athyrium 'Silver Falls'

No matter where you live if deer are a problem in your garden this book offers a wealth of information on plants to try that have proven to be deer resistant.  And, even if you don’t have deer problems, the design tips are very useful for gardeners seeking information how to combine plants artfully in your garden.