Topiary Provocation Spring 2021

Topiary Provocation? What is this about?

organic topiary blob

Topiary Provocation, Darren Lerigo, Spring 2021

This spring of 2021 I invited a number of garden designers to a series of meetings via Zoom, to discuss how topiary can be used effectively in modern gardens.

I wanted to discover how both clients and designers felt about topiary, whether it was a part of the garden that got as much thought as, say, the choice of stone for a patio…. and if certain plants and shapes tended to trend in designs or if it truly was a mish-mash of different topiary styles.

The provocation and talks were great fun, the designers engaged and interesting, and a number of ideas came up again and again at each meeting.

Topiary hedge maintenance

The ‘Topiary Provocation’ Report

So whether you are a garden designer or just a keen gardener, do please download the Topiary Provocation report from spring 2021.

It is not as good as being there and taking part in the meetings themselves, but it is a pretty close second! You can see what the provocations were, gage the reactions of the garden designers involved and discover a little more about the problems that stop topiary being used as well as it can be in a garden.

There are plenty of solutions too…

Download and read the report here:

Topiary Provocation, Darren Lerigo, Spring 2021

teaching topiary again

You are more than welcome to send this webpage to other people who may be interested, or put the provocation on your own website. It would be fantastic to have more people see it (and hopefully be inspired by what they read) so please do share it as widely as possible.

If you want to see more of my work, you can take a look at some of the topiary I make here. Or check out some of my topiary tips at The European Boxwood And Topiary Society website.

Though please be aware I do a huge range of work all over the country, both formal or organic in style, but due to needing to keep the gardens private you won’t be able to see some of the most interesting topiaries (unless you are invited over to a client’s garden for lunch. Then you will get to really enjoy it!)

But keep in mind that topiary can be all manner of interesting shapes and styles.

So do get in touch with me if you need some help, or advice, or to chew over an idea….


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 …



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 …



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 …