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It has been said that onions repel deer from gardens, but our author found that not to be the case.

There were certainly a lot of deer in my yard this past summer. More in my neighborhood than there used to be for sure.

Despite the damage these ungulates wreak on my plantings, I can’t help but enjoy seeing Teton wildlife out my kitchen window. And although I’ve lived here for decades, seeing any wild animals always gives me a thrill. Although I will say that when one deer looked right in the bathroom window when I was soaking in the tub it was somewhat unnerving.

It’s a given that the local deer will eat some of my flowers and lettuce. Nothing but a fence would keep them out of my garden entirely.

But I have been hoping, and experimenting, with some natural deer repellents to keep my vegetable and flower gardens intact.

I did some research and read that some people find that planting onions in the garden might help. Supposedly, onions are plants that are strong tasting and smelly enough to discourage deer.

So I planted lots of onions. They were a flop as a deer repellent. Of course, Bambi and her kin ate every one of the onions this fall as well as other crops in my garden just when I was about to harvest them.

In fact, if the deer couldn’t pull the onion bulbs clear out the ground then they clipped the onion greens as low as they could.

Good grief. Onions? Is nothing sacred in my garden?

After a long fall — I still had pretty little Johnny Jump Ups blooming on the first of November — I would have to say the growing season is over.

I now have some time to sit down and reflect on the past summer season.

Of course, I have some summer regrets. I am sorry that I did not plant more sweet peas in rows in my garden. Sweet peas are my favorite flower. I probably write about them every year. Although deer did indeed eat some of the vines, most managed to escape their furry lips for most of the summer.

I also wished that I had really gone for it and planted dozens and dozens more daffodils on my hillside. I always say that I am going to, but somehow never manage to get around to it. To have daffodils and other spring bulb flowers you must plant them in the fall.

Speaking of flower bulbs, I have given up entirely on tulips. I no longer plant them in my yard. You see, tulips always get eaten by deer. They love them. Daffodils are mostly left alone so I stick with them.

In the words of one 80-something Jackson Hole veteran gardener: It seems that deer will eat darn near anything. Apparently, that includes onions.

Gardening guru Marilyn Quinn shares her botanical expertise weekly during the summer, and once a month until December. Next month will be her last column for the year. Contact her at

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