My wife and I have recently been massively expanding our beach garden. The garden (and our house) sits on a small spit of land between the water and the swamp (now known as “wetlands”), little more than a solidified sand dune. We have been making an effort to put in native plants, in part because many of them are deer-resistant. We have also expended tremendous effort (and money) in trying to prevent the deer from getting the day lilies and tiger lilies. The deer love the lily buds and will bit them off as soon as they are fully formed (and way before they flower)
Why are “native” plants native? In thinking about the $#@*! deer, it seems clear that native plants have survived because they have evolved to be distasteful (literally) to native pests/predators such as rabbits and deer. Any plant that did NOT evolve to be deer resistant would have been gobbled up and the species would die out over the course of several hundreds of years or more because it would not have been able systematically to seed and propagate itself. This is of course relative, since as a number of web sites listing “deer resistant” plants point out, “Deer will eat ANYTHING if they are hungry enough. Also, plants left untouched in one area may be a favorite in another.” Nevertheless, overall when you plant “native plants” you are in fact paying tribute to evolution.