Although the deer still have access to the largest portion of woods on the property, several section are within the fence. They may actually be more diverse than the larger woods, because they aren't completely carpeted by sword ferns (Polystichum munitum). Those ferns are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they are very dense, preventing most things from growing under them. On the other hand, some things can grow under them or in holes in the middle of groups of ferns, and these hiding places allow some plants to grow unmolested almost to a height where they are safe from deer.
Yesterday I went through the woods, doing a thorough search of plants I want to move from the lower half of the property to the portion inside the fence, and seeing what exists inside the fence that I get to watch finally grow unimpeded. None of the images below are from cultivated areas. All are from uncultivated, natural areas, which make up most of the five acres I garden on. The reality of acreage is a lot of unused space, unless you farm, have livestock, or have unlimited funds for developing the entire property into a garden, or whatever you want to use your money for (though why you'd use it for anything else I can't imagine).
One of only two western hemlocks (Tsuga heterophylla) on the property, this one was planted while the other is naturally-occurring. I just
It's a good thing I decided to survey the woods. I used to do frequent ivy patrols, but haven't for several years because, well, I haven't really lived here for several years. Luckily, this ivy was the largest, at about 3 feet long.
Inside-out flower (Vancouveria hexandra) isn't much bothered by deer that I've noticed, though I'm sure if I had moved some from the woods to one of my garden beds it would have been like laying out a salad on the table. As a somewhat aggressive spreader, this plant has become quite common in the woods in the last few years, but has only just begun to colonize the area that is now enclosed in the fence. I may help it along by transplanting some into the shady garden areas.
There are only three blooming-size ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor) on the property, and two of them are on the very edge where dense salal and other brush protected them. There are perhaps three or four young plants, too, but only one of them is inside the fence. The one photographed below is just outside the fence against the back of the woodshed. It's also possibly the only one small enough to easily transplant, so I'll be moving it inside the fence come fall. I haven't seen any smaller than this, and it makes me wonder what a seedling looks like. Do they just materialize overnight at 2 feet tall and grow from there?
Both woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) and coastal strawberry (F. chiloensis) occur on the property. The fruit of the Fragaria vesca in the photo below was delicious.
One year, enchanter's nightshade (Circaea alpina) suddenly appeared here and there in the woods. I have no idea what triggered this sudden colonization, but it has really taken off since then.
I find the patches of this delicate perennial to be quite beautiful, even, dare I say, enchanting, in a quiet way.
Actually, one of the things I like best about enchanter's nightshade is that it seems to be successfully competing with the invasive herb robert (Geranium robertianum). They seem to like growing in the same areas and the Circaea starts growing earlier, thus shading the ground and denying the herb robert seeds and seedlings light. I've noticed a lot less herb robert each year since this enchanter moved in.
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) plays a game of chance with the deer. Will it grow enough to surpass the reach of hungry deer, or will one happen by before the shrub can grow above it. This shoot lost this year.
There are enough around that have grown enough to escape the deer that I don't worry too much about them.
Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens) is infrequently eaten by deer, but often enough that there aren't many taller than a few feet. However, there are enough of these inside the fence that can grow up safe from browsing that I won't bother moving any. Though it might be nice to have some in sunnier areas where they might grow and bloom sooner to attract more birds. I saw a pair of cedar waxwings the other day collecting nesting material from the edge of the dry creek bed. They were a common sight at our previous house and a rare one here, and I believe it's because there were lots of native berries and other fruits at the other house for them to eat, while here the deer have prevented any substantial development of plants like salmonberry, elderberry, and Indian plum.
I confess I'm not sure if this is Hooker's (Disporum hookeri) fairybells or Smith's fairybells (D. smithii). The difference is that the former has tiny hairs on the stems, leaves, and fruits, while the latter is smooth. I haven't had the gall to check if the Disporum in these woods shave or not. Either way, it's rare to see one this large, almost two feet tall. Usually one this size would have been eaten by the deer. Somehow, they manage to fruit and have become quite common both inside and outside the fenced area, so I don't need to move any. I just get to enjoy watching the ones inside the fence grow nice and big like this one.
The flowers aren't really showy, but I love the purple filaments coming out of those little cream blooms.
A bizarrely unmolested saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia). Usually they're chewed to nubs with only a few leaves. I wish this one luck. There are plenty of seedlings in the fenced area, and mature plants in the general area to provide seed via birds, that I won't worry about moving any.
Same goes for this Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis). This one found a nice hiding place among the sword ferns. I hope it stays safe.
Beaked hazelnut seems to be left alone for the most part, so there are a decent number of them down in the woods. The same doesn't hold true for the ones in the area south of the house where the logging was done several years ago. They had to be cut down because they were growing right at the base of Douglas firs slated for removal. Of course the hazelnuts resprouted from the base, but the deer then decided to keep them mowed down to 2-3 feet tall. And they were once the largest ones on the property. Now that the fence is protecting them, maybe they will be again.
Foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) doesn't seem to be bothered by deer and is already growing both inside and outside the new fence, but I want some in the shady garden areas so I plan to dig some up from the woods.
This tree fell across the back fence a few years ago. My parents hardly ever go this far into the woods, so it's likely this natural cage will remain to protect whatever may be growing within until the branches decompose.
The field area is full of oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare), an introduced weed from Europe. Frankly, to me the flowers smell like somethings rear end. The young shoots are edible though. Before they produce flower buds they are tender, sweet, and just a little spicy.
The large-leaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) once covered a large portion of the field in a solid mass that created a purple lake in spring. Regular mowing reduced them to almost nothing, but recently they've been making a comeback. The warm spring this year made the flowers a bit of a flash in the pan, though. Usually the lower flowers are still looking decent by the time the top ones open. The last couple years they've browned out almost as soon as they open.
Surprisingly, foxgloves are rare occurrences here, so the two (one pictured below) that showed up at the edge of the field this year are a welcome novelty.
This has turned into a very long post, so I'm breaking it into two segments. Part 2 will cover plants inside the fenced area.