There are many critters gardeners need to contend with. One of the larger and more frustrating is deer. What is tricky about deer is they don’t always eat the same things at the same time in the garden. In winter and early spring they often browse items that they avoid when they have a choice. Young trees can be especially hard to establish without wire barriers.
Consider reviewing this excellent list from New Jersey Extension Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance. They use a scale and include photos to help you consider your options. Another more local list of Deer Resistant Perennials from an extension professor in Vermont is helpful. And from UNH a listing of Deer Resistant Native Plants.
So far, some standouts for me are ferns (which they tend to not like). My favorite by far is Japanese Painted Fern. Beautiful shrubs include Caryopteris clandonensis – commonly called Blue Mist or Blue Spirea. Potentilla (Cinquefoil) is another shrub which flowers in various colors. Anemone is one of my favorite late blooming perennials and deer usually avoid it.
Some people wrap the plants in burlap that are often browsed in the winter and this can be enough to deter deer. If you hate the look of burlap in your garden, Gardener’s Supply has this solution: printed bags to cover shrubs!