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Deer O Deer: Embracing Deer In The Garden

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Article by:
Laura McMahon, Marketing Manager, British Deer Society

Deer O Deer: Embracing Deer In The Garden At RHS Tatton Park Flower Show 2024

The RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, is taking place from Wednesday 17 July to Sunday, 21 July 2024, is set to dazzle visitors with its diverse and innovative garden displays. Among the many standout exhibits this year will be the captivating border garden titled Deer O Deer, a collaborative creation by the talented Alice Meacham, assisted by Trudi Robson, with contemporary deer sculptures crafted by the renowned Simon Hempsell supported by the BDS.

 A Garden with a Message

Deer O Deer is more than just a visual delight; it carries a thoughtful message about the harmonious coexistence of cultivated spaces and deer. The garden poses a pertinent question, how can we encourage wildlife including deer into our gardens while protecting our beloved plants from potential threats?

Alice Meacham and her team have brilliantly addressed this challenge. The garden will feature two abstract steel sculptures representing deer, skilfully crafted by Simon Hempsell. These sculptures symbolise the sometimes problematic presence of deer in gardens, browsing amid an array of carefully curated plants. The message is clear: cultivated spaces don’t have to be fenced off from deer but can be designed in a more considered way.

 Thoughtful Plant Choices

While no plant is entirely browse-proof, many are less palatable to deer or can tolerate a bit of nibbling. In Deer O Deer, Meacham has chosen plants that exemplify this balance. The garden includes:

  • Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ (Japanese Maple): known for its striking wine-coloured foliage, this plant adds a bold splash of colour and is less likely to be heavily grazed by deer.
  • Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracimillus’: these ornamental grasses bring movement and texture to the garden while being relatively unappetising to deer.
  • Mophead Hydrangeas: their large, showy blooms contribute to the garden’s visual appeal and can withstand occasional browsing.
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ (Tawhiwhi): this plant adds a rich, dark foliage contrast and is another example of a plant that deer tend to avoid.
Deer O Deer Team

Meet the Designers

Alice Meacham is a garden designer specialising in rural and coastal sites. Her journey into garden design began after a move to the West Country, leaving behind a career in corporate media. Retraining as a gardener, she spent countless hours improving existing gardens before moving into design. Alice’s expertise lies in creating landscapes that seamlessly blend with their natural surroundings.

Trudi Robson, a West Country native, brings a wealth of experience from her previous work in tourism and advertising. She transitioned to professional gardening and design, with a particular passion for naturalistic prairie-style perennial schemes and ornamental grasses. Trudi and Alice met through their children’s school and have since collaborated on various design, renovation, and garden installation projects in the South West.

 The Artist Behind the Sculptures

Simon Hempsell is at home working with steel and engineering processes, a craft deeply rooted in his upbringing near Sheffield. His frequent visits back to his roots and the utilisation of local trades, are a testament to his connection to the area.

Simon’s career began in graphic design and photography, where he honed his illustrative techniques. Transitioning to sculpture, he now designs pieces crafted from steel and stainless steel using the latest laser cutting technology. This approach allows him to create works with beautifully simple, flowing curves.

His portfolio includes commissions for private gardens in the UK and internationally, as well as public art for clients such as GSK and Cala Homes. Simon has exhibited widely, including at The Savill Garden, Fresh Air, and Sculpture at Beaulieu.

“My designs are curvaceous and charmingly simple, which probably reflects my training as a graphic designer and my strong beliefs in the ‘less is more’ approach, stripping things back to the bare bones,” says Simon.

 A New Perspective on Garden Design

Deer O Deer invites gardeners to rethink their approach to garden design, encouraging the integration of deer rather than exclusion. By selecting plants that are less appealing to deer, or can endure their presence, gardeners can create beautiful, sustainable landscapes that support local wildlife.

Alice Meacham’s design philosophy emphasises the importance of coexistence and thoughtful planting. Her collaboration with Trudi Robson and Simon Hempsell’s artistic contributions will bring this vision to life, creating a garden that is both practical and aesthetically stunning..

 Volunteer Opportunity for BDS Members

We are excited to offer BDS members the opportunity to volunteer and help Alice and Trudi man the Deer O Deer garden during the show. Volunteers will be rewarded with a free access pass to the show on the days they volunteer, allowing them to enjoy the event, as well as share the garden’s message of coexistence. Any members interested in volunteering should email Laura McMahon at for more details.

 Appeal for Donations

To ensure the success and sustainability of the Deer O Deer garden, we are seeking donations to support the garden. Your contributions will help us continue to promote the message of harmonious coexistence. Every donation, no matter how small, makes a difference. Please consider supporting this innovative project and help us spread the word about creating deer-friendly spaces.

 Visit Deer O Deer at RHS Tatton Park

Don’t miss the opportunity to see the Deer O Deer garden at next month’s flower show. This garden not only will display innovative design and beautiful plants, but also deliver a powerful message about living in harmony with deer.

Selecting plants for the garden

Help us to continue to speak up for deer

Join the British Deer Society today and be a part of a passionate community dedicated to deer in the UK. Your membership or donation will support vital initiatives in education, training, and sustainable deer management. Together, we can ensure a brighter future for our wild deer. 

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