Mark Zlotsky – Topiary Tango In New York

Mark Zlotsky is an artist based in New York, and today I just wanted to share his project ‘Topiary Tango’.

In his introduction to the project he talks of topiary being a forgiving art, which I love and is soooooo true…..!

For proof, just take a look at some projects I have made with a sharp pair of shears, a hedgetrimmer and a pruning saw.

Do check out Mark Zlotsky’s project, because although his interest began by looking at topiary through the prism of architecture and the relationship of one building to another, he touches directly onto a way of making and using topiary in a garden:

The elasticity of topiary to be reinvented

That it is volumetric, and can reinvent or obscure original forms

Illusion is possible by combining topiaries

It influences spaces

To add or subtract mass changes character

Relating topiaries together creates a story (they tango!) – context is so important and is always what I look for when designing a topiary!

To be honest, I am struggling to present to you how good these thoughts by Mark Zlotsky are on topiary. I have only just found the project, but am taken with the language he is using to describe how topiary can transform – can Tango! – with the space and objects around it.

I am always looking for ways to inspire people to take more care, put more thought into their topiaries and hedges… and terms like elasticity and volumetric, though they may not make you tingle with joy, or make you throw down whatever it is you are doing and leap into the garden wielding a hedgetrimmer, they are exciting to me! (sad.)

But I think, in this early moment as I have just come across Topiary Tango, I like it because the project looks at Topiary not just from a slanted position, with fresh, un-horticultural eyes, but because it says – ‘look what topiary can do for you’.

Which is what it is always about! How is the way you prune, the reason you prune, making your garden better and stirring not just your sense of beauty in what you are seeing, but what you feel as well? How does the shape, cut and relation of a hedge to the garden around it change, even if you don’t notice it, the mind?

Robert Frost’s A Dust Of Snow…

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

This poem does the same thing I’m trying to (poorly) express… a dust of snow – a dust! not an avalanche, a dust! – has saved a terrible day.

How simple it feels, this poem, but how significant the change. The catalyst something in nature, in an outdoor space.

Ach, a funny blog post this. All over the place. So forgive me.

But I recommend reading further about the project Topiary Tango by Mark Zlotsky.

He is also to be profiled in the next edition of Topiarius, a magazine I have featured in. It is beautiful, and worth grabbing a copy of this year – 2022.


The Largest Topiary Garden In The UK

A 45 second video with my work in the background… See what is possible with topiary? If given enough time? Contact me to discuss transforming your hedges and shrubs!


Selection Of Topiary Videos To Help You Clip

Over the last two years I have been involved with a couple of projects that have ended up being recorded, then placed on Youtube or Instagram. I’m hoping they will be useful to you, so I have decided this morning to pop them together in one handy blog post so that you can bookmark the page and revisit when you need some inspiration for your topiary. See below then, a few videos about topiary I have recently been involved with… Garden Masterclass – Provocations of a Modern Topiarist My Work In The Background Of This Short Clip Transforming Topiary Topiary …



Gardenista Interview – I Talk About Modern Topiary

Gardenista, the online magazine about gardens and design, have interviewed me about topiary. The article is called ‘Rethinking Topiary: A Garden Tradition Loosened Up’ and was published this morning. Written by the excellent garden writer Clare Coulson, I share some thoughts on using deciduous plants, how to clip (name-dropping Anne Lamott and her book on writing at one stage… oh, how I wander off subject sometimes!) and how to improve topiary by what you plant around it. Do take a look at the article in Gardenista. Or for more about my topiary work, check out the topiary page.