What to plant to keep deer away from your spring bulbs and flowers

Fall is a great time to plant daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, and tulips, like the ones shown here at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Kentucky.

About 10 years ago I received a phone call from a local gardener who was distraught over a perplexing problem in the garden. It looks like something was eating his hostas, hydrangeas, tomato plants, and even his many-thorny roses.

I suggested that it sounded like he was experiencing midnight raids by members of the cloven-helmeted gang, easily identifiable by their black leather jackets and conspicuous antlers protruding from the tops of their pompadours.

But at that suggestion, she replied, “Oh no…that’s not all.”. I live in the city.” It turns out that by “city” he meant the Indian Hills neighborhood of Louisville, home to the largest herd of hosta-fed deer since the invention of the Zoot Suit.

Living in the Louisville Highlands neighborhood for the past 25 years, I always thought fighting deer in the yard was someone else’s problem. But that was until last year when a 240-pound doe, and now her three fawns, took up residence in the neighborhood. My yard is now shifting focus to everything deer proof, all the time. And now that we’re into bulb planting season, that means I need to completely change my bulb planning.