Deer are not particularly fond of California lilac, or Ceanothus.
Minter Country Garden / PNG
Tomato plants, in general, produce their fruits in clusters.Q. I’ve been noticing and admiring some unusually attractive tomatoes being sold in local markets and stores. They are a little smaller than regular tomatoes, in clusters on a stem. Are these commercial types only or are seeds for them available to home gardeners? I’d love to grow tomatoes like this in my garden next summer.A. Tomato plants, in general, produce their fruits in clusters, but I know the especially attractive mid-sized ones you mean. The only variety I’ve grown so far is Hamlet, from William Dam Seeds. It’s a “cluster tomato” developed for the European organic fresh market. The fruits are around eight cm across, five or six to a cluster. For several years now in my garden, the plants have been healthy and productive. Hamlet is a staking (indeterminate) variety.Dam also lists Alegra, described as “a small cluster tomato with exquisite taste. Bred in Israel for the organic market. Deep red, perfectly round, five-cm fruits on tidy plants”, which are indeterminate.The catalogue’s tomato listings are extensive. Hamlet and Alegra are found under the “Early cluster and Medium Fruited Types.” You can find them on the company’s website: damseeds.com.Q. I need a replacement shrub under two metres tall for a sunny site where deer have demolished other plants.A. Gardeners in deer country regard lists of deer-resistant plants with considerable derision, but they offer useful suggestions at least for plants that are not among the deer’s most favoured targets.Two shrubs that might work for you are California lilac (Ceanothus) and Mexican orange blossom (Choisya). Both are evergreen.Ceanothus can be seen in some municipal landscapes. ‘Victoria,’ a popular variety, grows up to three metres but can be easily kept more compact with pruning. Deep blue flowers begin appearing in May.Choisya ternata is a broadly mounded shrub with lustrous, aromatic leaves and perfumed white flowers in late spring. ‘Sundance’ has bright golden foliage Another, less seen form, ‘Aztec Pearl,’ has more slim-fingered leaves.