THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb01

Plants for Topiary

Want to know the best plants to use for topiary? Here is the common palette, and included are a few trees that love to be pollarded, or espaliered, or can take being cut to the ground or have their leaves stripped from the stem…

… not all of these plants will give you the classic topiary forms, but they may be worth experimenting on and discovering how they can be pruned and what impression they leave you with when they are!

Box

Yew

Holm Oak

Holly

Azalea

Ilex crenata

Bay

Thuja

Hebe

Portugese laurel

Pines (including Scots pine)

Robinia

Olive

Osmanthus

Fig

Lime

Privet

Rosemary

Eleagnus x ebbingei

Eucalyptus

Hazel

Willow

Plane

Myrtus apiculata

Alder

Cornus

Gingko

Pittosporum

Rhamnus

Beech

Hornbeam

Berberis

Lonicera

Phillyrea

Pyracantha

Photinia

Cupressus

Chestnut

Pyrus

Ash

Rhododendron

Podocarpus

Cinnamomum

Juniper

Aucuba

Acer

Hawthorn

Viburnum

Prunus – lots of fruit trees take to being espaliered!

Elder

Buddleia

Conifer

Laurel

Abies

Cedar

Chaemycyparis

Oak

Pieris

Camellia

Cryptomeiria

Choisya

Tree ferns

Bananas

Bamboos

Yuccas

Lyonothamnus

Magnolia

Oleander

Euonymous

Choisya

Palms

What to clip with?

Okatsune hedge shears

We hope you can add to the topiary palette with your own experiments – happy clipping!

Apr28

Phillyrea From 1682

Worlidge Phillyrea

Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a  reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …

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Apr27

Kites And Strings Podcast – Topiary In The Garden

kites and strings podcast

Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …

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Apr27

Robinia – Pruning A Beautiful Tree For Small Gardens

topiary Robinia

Robinia is often forgotten – by me, actually! – when thinking of plants for topiary. But when I work on it I do love it, brittle and soft as the wood is if you climb into it. But that danger of snapping a branch with a heavy step and falling out of the tree aside, I love it for the dappled light it allows into the garden space. Robinia Near The Sea Below is a Robinia I have gently clipped over the last few years, down near Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The tree was large when I arrived, although it is …

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