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

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - East Kent Property - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Pic­ture: PA Photo/think­stock­pho­tos

Prun­ing a hedge into shape of bird

Pic­ture: PA Photo/think­stock­pho­tos

Clas­sic box ball shapes

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