Topiary times

We don’t have enough topiary in the U.S.—not that I’m about to start clipping, but I always admire the work of others when we visit gardens in England. My favorite was the row of yew elephants that head gardener Ed Cross created at Hazelbury, near the village of Box in Wiltshire. The row of mature yew grown into arches

elephants in Wiltshire

elephants in Wiltshire

was already there, so Ed just couldn’t resist the temptation. The first time we saw them in 2004, he had just started and sent me a photo of his template. I took another picture during second visit two years ago, and you can see the beginning of the elephant form. Too bad the owners got wind of what he was doing and made him shear the elephants back into plain yew.

elephants appear

elephants appear

Of course, we all love the topiary at Hidcote and at Great Dixter.

Great Dixter

Great Dixter

You know, come to think of it, I could get just a small yew in a pot and start clipping. What would it be—a chicken? A teapot? A sofa? We saw an entire living room set clipped out of boxwood at Iford Manor; our guide Stuart decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

Iford furniture

Iford furniture

It may not be as easy as it sounds—Matthew Appleby at the Telegraph writes that gardeners are taking a new interest in the art, but his attempt at a simple shape met with mixed results.


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4 Responses to “Topiary times”

  1. kilbournegrove Says:

    I found your blog when I used Tag Surfer at WordPress. You are so right, there is not enough topiary in North America. I don’t know why we don’t cultivate this form of gardening. And you have a hard time finding any info about shaping it here. I have planted some boxwoods in my Lime Walk that I am shaping into balls. Also the linden trees are going to be pleached. I hope to someday shape my hedge if it ever grows.

  2. matt appleby Says:
    This was an odd one. The Daily Mail commissioned the piece but didn’t use. So it got rehashed. Garden centres report big sales of topiary shears etc and cite the unemployed as those taking hedge cutting up because they have time on their hands.

  3. passportsandseedpackets Says:

    Topiary gets a mixed reception in the U.S., but I’m quite fond of it.

    Oh, and, congrats – I guess – on winning the ugly veg contest.

  4. joe kyte Says:

    I am trying my best to spread as much topiary about as possible! There are plenty of North American examples of topiary on my website,
    The varieties of style I employ include traditional shrubbery cut to form, steel wire cutting frames, American Portable style – stuffed and planted with vines, hydroponic ChChCh Chia pet style of growing….Living Walls, Living Logos for a greener corporate America, on and on!

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