Street spi­rals

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

An Ash­hurst artist has lifted her street with a piece of in­spired top­i­ary.

Top­i­ary is the art of sculpt­ing hedge plants into liv­ing shaped ar­range­ments.

Gar­dener and artist Deb Wolfs­bauer has been main­tain­ing a king-sized green brooch of artis­tic swirlery at her front gate on Ash­hurst’s Ox­ford St for sev­eral years.

The three-di­men­sional shrub carv­ing pro­vides one of those ‘‘did I re­ally see that’’ mo­ments for those who drive down the street and catch a glimpse of it for the first time.

Her top­i­ary has also be­come some­thing of a talk­ing point for lo­cals, and Wolfs­bauer jokes that it is now ’’world fa­mous in Ash­hurst’’, with on­line post­ings, pho­to­graphs and com­ments about her hand­i­work pop­ping up on­line from time to time.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple stop and take pho­tos - after that, I don’t know where [the pic­tures] go.’’

The art­work goes down well off­line as well.

‘‘We were given a gift - a box of scorched al­monds ad­dressed ‘To the spe­cial hedge peo­ple. Thanks for mak­ing the ef­fort. It makes us smile’.’’

It could al­most be called a tourist at­trac­tion. One per­son told Wolfs­bauer that when­ever some­one comes to visit, they make a point of show­ing off the dis­tinc­tive con­toured green spi­ral art­work.

Be­cause it is alive, main­tain­ing the shrub sculp­ture

‘‘Give me the right plant, and I can't help my­self.’’ Topi­arist, Deb Wolfs­bauer

takes com­mit­ment. ‘‘I cut it in sum­mer ev­ery two weeks. I have to keep on top of it. If I leave it for four weeks it loses much of its pat­tern.’’

There are even so­lar-pow­ered lights strung through the jas­moides climber.

Wolfs­bauer, who works for Palmer­ston North gar­den­ing and prop­erty main­te­nance com­pany Jun­gle Tamers, is also a sculp­tor and painter.

‘‘I didn’t plan it, I just do it. At work, I get to do a bit of top­i­ary, so I get a lot of prac­tice - it’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion given the medi­ums I work in. Give me the right plant, and I can’t help my­self.’’

The evolv­ing street-front sculp- ture be­gan when she de­cided to curb the plant’s nat­u­ral en­thu­si­asm for en­croach­ment.

‘‘I had to chop it back off the foot­path. I thought I’ll just curve it up from the bot­tom, and it went from there.

‘‘Now, ev­ery time I clip it, I add some­thing to it.’’

DAVID UN­WIN/FAIR­FAX NZ.

Deb Wolfs­bauer trims her ar­tis­ti­cally ar­ranged liv­ing green spi­raled ‘‘street brooch’’ with a few kind cuts.

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