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  • Hungry deer raiding rural gardens

    Miranda Hodgson on 11 Apr 2013 at 09:32 AM

    Driving around Oxfordshire these last few weeks and looking at the countryside, I do not see a ‘green and pleasant land’ – it is brown. The trees are brown and so is the grass. Here we are in the second week of April and there is almost no new plant growth. The wildlife are hungry and deer have taken to rural gardens in their search for food. Plants I have lovingly tended are being stripped of their foliage, stems roughly pruned. You can’t blame the deer. It’s not their fault that this winter has dragged on for so long and if there are evergreen shrubs and bulb foliage they can get at they’re bound to do their best to get at them. It’s been interesting to see what plants attract deer in a domestic garden. The mossy mounds of Saxifraga x arendsii were one of the first to be sampled, the green rosettes nipped off. They didn’t eat all of them and some were left scattered, so maybe they weren’t too keen.

    Also palatable is Euonymus fortunei, this one being ‘Silver Queen’. This plant has lost nearly all its foliage and is looking distinctly twiggy. I know deer also enjoy the small leaved Euonymus japonicus microphyllus, because a few years ago they ate one of mine down to the ground.