Shaping up your garden nicely with topiary
Unveil your artistic talent with some simple topiary to create evergreen cones, obelisks, spheres. Homes & Living gives some top tips
If you’ve visited stately homes and gardens this summer and admired the architectural beauty of evergreen spheres and cones, beautifully clipped mazes, evergreen peacocks and other statuesque shapes, you may be inspired to create your own topiary.
This art of training plants into intricate shapes and forms may seem an occupation for the extremely skilled and artistic gardener, but now, as many of us are trimming our hedges, it’s worth considering a few simple tricks of the topiary trade.
Balls, pyramids, cones and obelisks are among the easiest shapes to start with, according to the RHS.
Choose a young, wellproportioned plant such as box or yew, which can be tightly clipped for detailed work.
They are slow-growing, so once their shape is established it should be fairly easy to maintain. You can also use holly, privet and the evergreen honeysuckle Lonicera nitida.
Wire frames are widely available to create the shape you want and flexible young shoots can be tied into the frame to create bushy growth. Sideshoots can be cut regularly back to two or three buds to encourage branching. When the plant is growing, make sure the ties aren’t cutting into the stems.
Stems facing downwards will grow the slowest and need to be tied in regularly, while vertical growth is the quickest.
Individual specimens can be grown in pots, but if you are after something bigger they will be more likely to succeed in an open sunny site, sheltered from strong winds.
As both box and yew are slow-growing, they only need trimming twice a year once their shape is established, in early summer and early autumn, using sheep shears or single-handed clippers.
If you are starting from scratch, choose a plant that already has the makings of a shape, such as a dome or spire, so all you have to do is exaggerate it. Once you have got the hang of the sphere or the pyramid, who knows, before long you may be able to create that grand peacock you’ve been dreaming about.
Pruning a hedge into shape of bird
Classic box ball shapes