My Work

Oh Deer – What’s Happened to the Box Topiary

Home » My Work » Oh Deer – What’s Happened to the Box Topiary

I’m bit of a perfectionist when it comes to topiary and enjoy achieving beautiful curves and straight lines with my work. I thought I had nearly achieved this with one of the designs I clip every year.

The box has always battled with blight outbreaks so it was a challenge. But with the support of the excellent on-site gardening team, who have been treating the blight and feeding the box, there was enough healthy growth to create some satisfying curves and straight lines.

Box Topiary Design
A combination of curves and straight lines

Sadly the local wildlife don’t seem to share my love of topiary. Every time I return to the garden I find areas of box bent over or out of place. And there were strange holes appearing, especially on the top of the large leaf shapes.

Bent over box twigs
Holes in the top of the leaf shapes

The gardens are surrounded by fields and small wooded areas, that are home to a thriving population of Roe deer. I often see them in small groups grazing in the fields. I am no wildlife expect but I assume deer like to use regular paths that they feel safe with, when travelling through the countryside.

Roe Deer.
Photo Credit –

It looks like this topiary design has been placed directly over one of these deer paths. And instead of finding a route around, the deer have decided to cut straight though the box, with a few energetic skips and leaps into the leaf shapes and hedging.

Damage where the deer have jumped through the box

Thankfully the deer don’t cause too much damage as the box plants are rarely broken and can be patted back into shape. The holes they create may actually be helping the box by creating more airflow that can improve the conditions to prevent blight infections.

But in a perfect world I would prefer the local deer to have greater admiration of a box curve and straight line, taking a short detour around the topiary design to appreciate the hard work of the gardening team… and my clipping.

By James Todman

Topiary Specialist based in The Cotswolds, UK.

One reply on “Oh Deer – What’s Happened to the Box Topiary”

Even with the damage shown, I an in awe of this buxux hedge/topiary. I have in herited several buxus hedges/topiary in a new property. One is a disaster. The branches seem to have grown sideways, inside the hedge, with masses of horizontal growth. When I force these branches upright, they are 110-150mm higher than hedge height. If I cut them, they collapse back into a horizontal growth direction. What to do??

Leave a Reply