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.


10 Years Of Modern Mint

On Valentine’s day this year (2024) Modern Mint, the company I started when I moved to Essex to explore a fresh, contemporary approach to gardening, will be 10 years old. The cliche is time flies… but it does! So much has happened in a decade, from studying topiary with Charlotte Molesworth, to clipping all over the UK (and eventually in the USA and Sweden) to selling shears and secateurs at garden shows and hiding away my reticence to give talks about gardening and topiary to Horticultural Societies across the UK. Ten years feels a good time to mark a new …



Garden Masterclass Trailer – The Modern Topiarist

In 2022 I did a free video for Garden Masterclass, the Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsley run website that is a treasure trove of the great and good of the horticultural world – well worth looking through all the wonderful talks they have available, like meadow-maker James Hitchmough or nurserywoman Rosy Hardy. They are certainly inspirational! Perfect for watching and dreaming up new ideas during the winter months… As a follow-up to my Topiary Provocations video (which you can see on Youtube for free) I was asked to do a video for their Masterclass series on how to make topiary. …



Charlotte Molesworth’s Garden In The FT

The lovely garden of my mentor Charlotte Molesworth is featured here in the Financial Times in the last week or so… She has been interviewed lots of times but I thought this was a particularly great piece, with some photos done at unusual angles and different parts… so well worth a read. For more on topiary by Charlotte Molesworth…