|Heather, the perfect winter flower for Deer Country|
Yes, it’s mid-December, we’ve had multiple killing frosts, so our gardens must be dormant—right?
Wrong! When I walk around our gardens doing winter chores—mostly cleanup and preparation for the next growing year—I see lots of flowers here and a few there.
The “lots of flowers here” is our heather shrub (Erica spp.), after six years about two feet high and five feet across. Deer don’t browse this tough shrub, which is why it’s in our front yard and unprotected by wire cage or a deer-repellent spray. The heather started blooming in mid-November and will bloom through the winter and into May. How nice to pause and admire delicate pink flowers while I’m shoveling snow.
|Moss phlox in its cage|
Just around the corner of the garage, a forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)—probably encouraged by the extra warm fall—sports 10 or so flowers. A week ago there were more than 20 flowers, so frosty nights are taking a toll.
And humans? I’m not about to experiment, and perhaps there’s a reason the bambits haven’t sampled the groundsel.
In addition to groundsel’s toxicity, there’s another reason I must trash this flowering weed. The weed book notes that “open flowers can develop fully mature seed after plants have been killed by cultivation or herbicides.” Whoa! Groundsel certainly rates a plastic bag in this gardener’s trash can.