top left: Carpenteria does very well in this drier, warmer climate, and is a deer resistant shrub worth repeating. top right: the dramatic lavender dipped spires of an especially tall Nepeta tuberosa hint at surprises to come later in the Summer.

above: towering over seven feet, Helianthus maximiliana, is the tallest of the several perennial sunflowers I've introduced on this site. below: detail of the flowering stalks of Verbascum bombyciferum, one of several silver foliaged accents on the banks of the drainage course.

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overall idea for site: replace a suburban style garden with some gently controlled, Mediterranean flavored wildness, anchor the banks of a drainage course that bisects the property, and in the open areas, do all this with plants that deer will leave on the plate.

description of site: clay soil; various types of shade from many mature trees, including fruit trees and an impressive live oak; a warmer, less marine influenced climate than San Francisco; some areas of full sun; very steep embankments to a drainage course infested with ivy and Himalayan blackberry.

pluses, solution to challenges: lots of room to use plants that would overwhelm smaller city plots; room to establish pattern and rhythm to borders; wide range of the sun exposure; apples, plums and an occasional lemon; deer mostly agree with published lists of deer-resistant plants.

The same border from a slightly broader view, at the end of the Summer. On the left, seed heads of Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence' sway behind a silvery form of Epilobium cana. To the right, the brown seed heads of nepeta now share air space with a taller epilobium, the snaking white arms of a verbascum, and puffs of white asters from Symphyotrichum ericoides 'Monte Cassino'.

Various grasses and grass-like plants audition to replace the ivy entrenched on a very steep slope. Behind it sits a bed later planted out to test the appetites of the local deer.

One winner is this wonderful plumed grass, Calamagrostis brachytricha, which not only blooms in part shade but is also ignored by deer. It will be repeated during the Fall planting. The lupines, nicotianas and verbascums I tested got chewed to the nub.

I am trialing several asters at this site, and two standouts are Symphyotrichum ericoides 'Monte Cassino' and S. oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite'.

Another ongoing project is maintaining a large Ficus pumila that spreads over three walls. Instead of a solid green mass, I chose to reaveal some of the vine's structure, adding texture and a feel of maturity.

As the deer continue to dictate what can be grown in the areas outside the gates, a surprisingly deep bench of suitable species has risen to the challenge. Next steps include finding ways to showcase these brave species in their best light, turning the garden from pretty, to pretty amazing.

  Dean Ouellette 415-820-1623