I hear all the time about beautiful Hosta gardens and shade gardens being eaten by rabbits and deer. Some say “plant enough to share,” but there are some plants that deer and rabbits seem to leave alone.
Helleborus – also called Christmas Rose or Lenten Rose is an evergreen leaf almost as large as a peony, the flowers come out in the middle of winter and start the season. Pink, white, and purple are the standard colors.
Japanese Forest Grass – variegated leaves, grows like a Hosta, another that deer and rabbits tend to avoid.
Liriope – both the variegated and the green, my favorite is Big Blue, these will mass but can be kept contained. I used a mower or weed eater once a year just to freshen them up.
Winter Aconite – actually a corm (planted like a bulb) these are the first plant to bloom in the spring. Plants spread by seed, so watch for the flowers to brown. People will think you have crocus, but these are simply “a breath of spring.”
As I watch my Hostas melt for the year, I am surprised that there is a plant in the garden that keeps leaves all winter and in mixed colors, and is not a favorite of animals. Coralbells have exploded in popularity. The most famous is Palace Purple.
I find mixing purple, amber, and chartreuse gives the best impact. My favorite combination is Plum Pudding (purple), Carmel (amber) and Citronelle (chartreuse). These will liven up a walkway, substitute for annuals in most gardens beds, and bring gardeners to question their own yards.
Throw in a few Japanese Painted Ferns, some Bleeding Hearts, and some European Ginger and you will have a great retreat for any shady part of the yard.