Topiary has long had a chequered past and has often been held in contempt by the ‘landscaping school’. So it is interesting to witness its revival and listen to garden designers suddenly championing its cause.  Box and yew are still amongst the most popular choices for clipping into shapes and for providing evergreen interest all year round. Today, we also hear that beech and hornbeam is now popular for more unusual and colourful displays, particularly during the autumn months.

Treat it as Fun

It  does require patience to grow and shape your own particularly if you chose box as it is very slow growing.  However, perhaps you are looking for something to give instant structure and form? Plenty of local nurseries and garden centres stock interesting and varied mature topiary in all shapes and sizes. Begin by leaving your chosen topiary in its pot and experimenting with clipping its form for a couple of years. Soon you will gain confidence. The trick is not to take it too seriously and treat it as a little bit of fun.

Stansted House

For inspiration, you can visit Stansted House near Rowlands Castle. Here the walled garden features some very fine pieces of formal topiary. Here you can witness how topiary helps to soften and shape an area of hard landscaping. As the original ancient art of topiary often depicted hunting scenes, you may also like to know that Stansted House begun life as a hunting lodge 800 years ago.  As mentioned earlier, everything changes – yet stays the same.

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