The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. John F. Kennedy

Anything worth having comes with a price. Having freedom is expensive. As the Fourth of July approaches, many thanks are officially due the many men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. And, to those who have served or are currently serving and protecting this great country, we say “thank you.” Without your service, we would not be one nation under God nor would we have the freedom we currently enjoy.

In just over a week we will be celebrating Independence Day in the good ole USA. This day is always a special time each year as vacations are taken, families are visited, activities are planned, memories are made, fellowships are shared, good friends are remembered, and new friendships are made while celebrating our nation’s independence in numerous ways in the great outdoors. It is truly a week for building relationships and sharing God’s love.

As we address our landscape and lawn needs this month, there are members of the wildlife family that most definitely like to hang out in our spaces. Yes, there are the birds, the squirrels, the rabbits, among others that we enjoy observing while they are frolicking about the grounds. And, the deer are pretty to observe. However, these same deer may practice a pruning pattern to most plants while we sleep, which will annoy us and possibly destroy every effort we make to improve the landscape. Pruning by deer is a problem in many of our landscapes, leaving our plants battered and beaten up. However, we are actually the guilty party for continuing to invade their spaces through construction and development, thus minimizing natural areas where they have been free to roam and survive.

Damage to ornamental plants caused by deer has increased significantly during the last few years. And this damage is both an urban and a rural problem due to increasing deer populations and suburban development strategies into natural woodlands. Deer are selective feeders that usually move slowly through the landscape and eat leaves and twigs from different trees, shrubs and plants by jerking and tearing the leaves, stems and twigs. Signs of deer damage include jagged edges on parts left intact, and annual and perennial plants which are partially or completely pulled out of the ground. Deer damage to larger trees is to the lower limbs (up to about 5 or 6 feet off the ground, which is about the limitation of their reach).

Deer may feed on certain plants in some landscapes and not others. Such feeding patterns may be due to the availability of natural food sources between landscapes and to the taste preferences of the individual deer. However, deer will eat almost any plant rather than face starvation. Deer favorites include narrow-leaf evergreens, daylilies, English ivy, hosta, and about any plant that has been fertilized.

Deer typically avoid prickly, poisonous or strong-scented plants. While many plants are deer tolerant, very few are deer-proof. Thus, careful plant selection should be a high priority where heavy deer populations thrive. Plants that offer good deer tolerance and distract deer with their aromatic (scented) foliage are listed as follows.

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed): Reaching a height of 2 to 4 feet and a spread of 2 to 3 feet, this tough perennial offers clusters of orange flowers in the summer. It prefers placements in full sun (beds and borders) in a well-drained soil and tolerates heat and drought. It attracts many kinds of butterflies and works well in dried arrangements. Monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves but seldom harm this native plant. It is slow to emerge in the spring and deadhead faded blooms after flowering before seed development to limit spread. Works well with catmint, coreopsis and fountaingrass.

Chrysanthemum spp. (mums): Reaching a height and width of 3 feet, this renowned fall-blooming perennial offers a wide range of colors from purples and pinks to the fall tones of red, rust, orange, and yellow, and scented foliage. It prefers placement in full sun (containers, beds and borders) in a well-drained soil. They also do well as cut flowers. Works well with sedum, asters and miscanthus.

Dianthus spp. (dianthus or pinks): Reaching a height of 30 inches and a width of 18 inches, this enchanting, drought-tolerant perennial offers spicily fragrant flowers of pink, red, white, rose and lavender in the spring, summer and fall and grasslike blue-green foliage. It prefers placement in full sun (containers, beds, borders and slopes) in a well-drained soil. It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, and looks great as a cut flower and in dried arrangements. Works well with perennial geranium, coralbells and iris.

Kniphofia spp. (red-hot poker): Reaching a height of 5 feet and a spread of 2 feet, this drought-tolerant perennial offers brilliantly colored tubular flowers (yellow, orange or red) above clumps of grassy foliage. It prefers placement in full sun (containers, beds and borders) in a moist, well-drained soil. Its vivid red-hot pokers create architectural impact in sunny landscapes. It attracts birds, hummingbirds and butterflies. Works well with helenium, artemisia and salvia.

Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary): Reaching a height of 5 feet and a width of 3 feet, this drought-tolerant, evergreen, herbal shrub offers flowers with shades of pink or blue and leathery leaves with a scent of the Mediterranean. Leaves also add fresh herbal flavor in the kitchen preparations. It prefers placement in full sun (containers, beds, borders and slopes) in a well-drained soil with a gravel mulch. It is known as a symbol of remembrance and friendship and fills the landscape with aroma, flavor and activity (pollinating bees are attracted to the blooms). It attracts birds and butterflies.

Solidago spp. (goldenrod): Reaching a height of 6 feet and a width of 3 feet, this perennial plant offers golden flowers (late summer and early fall) with attractive foliage and drought tolerance. It prefers placement in full sun (containers, beds, borders and slopes) in a well-drained soil. Also, an excellent vase plant and ideal filler plant for fall arrangements. Goldenrod does not aggravate allergies. Its pollen is too heavy to move in the wind and instead sticks to the legs of the insects and butterflies that feed on its nectar. Works well with aster, Russian sage and helenium.

Also, Acanthus mollis (Bear’s Breeches), Caryopteris spp. (bluebeard), Crocosmia spp. (Crocosmia), Epimedium spp. (barrenwort or bishop’s cap), Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage), and Phormium spp. (New Zealand flax).

Think in terms of native and sustainable plants in the landscape. May this bit of awareness ignite your desire to learn and ask questions, encourage you to further apply your gained knowledge, and bring you to further realize that environmental stewardship and sustainability should be at the foundation of all your home landscape activities.

Keep your hanging baskets and potted plants refreshed with water and food. Remember to feed and water the songbirds, and give your pets the care they need. Also, be on lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities this summer. And remember to safely share the road with motorcycles. Look three times before entering the highway. Drive alert and arrive alive. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, and don’t text while driving. Help the homeless every chance you get. Let’s keep everyone safe and secure as the month of June becomes history. Thank you for your prayers for our mission team while in Peru last week. It was an awesome mission!

The Lord will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:7-8.

Eddie Seagle is a sustainability associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland); agronomist and horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International); professor emeritus and honorary alumnus, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and associate editor of The Golf Course, International Journal of Golf Science. Direct inquiries to csi_seagle@yahoo.com.

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