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      U.P. Gardening Tip - August 3, 2009

      The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has an abundance of wild animals. Many of these creatures love to dig, snip, snap, and snout-root in our flower and vegetable gardens. The common deer is the peskiest in my book followed by rabbits and squirrels. In my grandmother TMs day (during the Great Depression of the 1930 TMs), gardeners did not have this problem. Often, many children in the household, kept a tight vigil over the gardens. If any hapless animal wandered too close, it ended up in a stew pot, often feeding a family of sixteen or more people. I know this to be true because I have inherited an old woodstove cookbook (circa 1929) with recipes for Gray Squirrel Souffl. The notes in the margins are priceless!

      But now it TMs 2009 and gardeners must have a new plan of attack. Here are four favorite perennials that offer pest resistance: coneflower (Echinacea), foxglove (digitalis), bleeding heart (dicentra), and columbine (aquilegia). Coneflower has spiny flower centers that naturally repel deer. There is a chemical in this plant that can cause an allergic reaction. I TMve never seen deer sneeze so I TMm not sure why they stay away from this plant. They just do.

      Foxglove (digitalis) has a chemical that causes cardiac stimulus and nausea. Animals stay away from this flower because the entire plant from roots to leaves to seed is highly toxic. Just a nibble can cause the heart to race and death to occur. Most animals instinctively know this. However, humans don TMt. Do not plant this flower near your lettuce beds.

      Bleeding Heart (dicentra) is a pretty pink flower with a red petal dropping from the center. It, too, is poisonous. Animals are unlikely to ingest it. Columbine (aquilegia) also contains cardiogenic toxins. The seeds and roots are poisonous to most creatures however cabbage moths thrive on it. It is a beautiful and hearty flower and does well in Michigan. It is also drought resistant.

      For more varmint resistant plants, U.P. gardeners check:

      TV6 Contributor - Donna Campbell, Master Gardener

      Check out our TV6 Family Garden page for daily tips, local growing tips, and news and video, plus helpful links to gardening fun.