Fancy gardening or topia opera (ornamental gardener) from the greek topos meaning place. I love this term and what it has come to represent, Topiary the art of clipping shrubs into shapes and forms within a garden.

I’ve always loved the versatility of the plants used and the way in in which we know them best as big English country estate gardens. But they can fit so well in a small courtyard city garden,oriental style or even a cottage garden. I particularly love those formal shapes set in amongst a meadow or loose planting scheme.

I once had to do a talk on Topiary for a local horticultural society. They said they didn’t get many people who knew about the subject so could I pop along and do a short presentation. Lets just say it was my first foray into public speaking and it has since been my last. What I thought would last for an hour lased exactly ten minutes and I’ve never been so embarrassed. Needless to say when I was asked a few years later I’m afraid I chickened out and let them down. I still feel bad about this.

Since then I would hope I could make it last a bit longer. I’ve done so much more research into the history of topiary for a little side project and I’m just loving the amazing stories that go with this art form.

Just a little hint but the Romans certainly didn’t start it. And Buxus pollen grains have been found dating back to 7000 BC to name just two examples of the fascinating facts.

So how do you start your own Topiary garden well I recommend starting by have some in pots that you can move around the garden until your happy with where they are. In small courtyard style gardens you can keep them in pots but I would buy ones that are a little larger than the ones they came in. Make sure to put either broken pot or grit in the bottom of the new pots for drainage. Remember not to let them dry out even wind can dry a potted plant so water regularly.

Buxus ball

Buxus ball

In larger gardens you can plant them in he ground and mulch around them. Clip once or twice a year depending on the nature of the variety of plant chosen.

Once your a little more experienced you can try creating your own topiary shapes using a wire form or just follow your instincts and cloud prune.

No matter what your style try it its fun.

Small garden style

stick with simple shapes so as to not overcrowd a small area. Balls, spirals or pyramids are perfect.

Oriental style

Cloud pruned plants are perfect.

Cottage garden, meadow or loose planting

Try tall columns or pyramids to give a strong tall structure above the loose flowing planting.

Large gardens

The Topiary world is your oyster try to find something that compliments the existing garden.