THE MODERN MINT BLOG
An artist? Really? For your garden? Why exactly would you need a topiary artist?!?!?
What A Topiary Artist Can Do For Your Garden
It can help you elevate a shrub or tree that is, perhaps, overgrown or taking light away from more precious plants in your borders, into something… Architectural. Noteworthy. A brilliant contrast to what is around it.
Perhaps a topiary artist can help sculpt a shrub into something that draws the eyes to the sky? Imagine a piece that can do that, in a garden sitting below the immense heavens of Norfolk?
For me, you call in a topiary artist when you have a garden that needs another dimension added to it, through judicial pruning that can take the eye skywards, or allow in more light and air, or give space to a garden that is beginning to feel claustrophobic.
Is Topiary Artist A Real Job?
I normally just say ‘I’m a gardener’ when asked about my job.
And I am. I garden. I just tend to do it with a pair of shears in my hands, secateurs in my pocket and a beady eye appraising the shrubs in the garden.
‘What can I do with that?’ goes through my head as I look around… come on! Let me at it!
So no, topiary artist is not a real job… although I make my living from pruning, it covers a vast spectrum of work. I can be found:
- Pruning fruit trees, roses and wisteria in winter
- Maintaining or making hedges, shrubs and topiary pieces in spring, summer and autumn
- Spraying nematodes and using other organic techniques to stop boxwood caterpillar eating the boxwood at a client’s house
- Talking about gardening at clubs all through the year
- Running workshops and teaching topiary whenever someone asks me or needs to know more about how to wield their shears
So lots of different streams run into the great river that is a topiary artist.
And most importantly it is the attitude towards what you can do with a shrub, using a pair of sharp shears, not the label you are given or even the tools you use that make it art. (Although to be fair, the shears in the picture above are almost an art work in themselves, made by Tobisho-san in Japan, of blue steel and magnolia obvata.)
Do I Need A Topiary Artist Then?
Possibly, if your garden has just been planted with lots of shrubs, trees and hedges. An artist (of the topiary variety) can aid you in growing it well and cultivating these new plants towards the shapes you want them to be.
Or if your garden has a number of already developed shrubs, hedges and the like, but feels like it is closed in and all a bit lost. Like these plants have too much weight and are doing no more than adding bulk to a garden, rather than acting as counterpoints to lighter, airier plantings.
That is when you need a topiary artist. The art being that someone can come in, observe… and take responsibility to make the most of what you have.
A topiary artist turns a shrub into something that works in the garden – whether drawing the eye to it, as a piece you wish to look at in its own right, or by giving context to something else in the garden, and so improving that.
Topiary art is just that – an art. It will change day by day, but if you have a garden that needs a little pizzazz, or love, or extra joy brought to it… you can do worse than ask a topiary artist in for a look.
See more of my work as a topiary artist here.
Or contact me to discuss visiting your garden.
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 Transforming Topiary Topiary Teacher Put On The Spot https://www.instagram.com/p/CTj-EfOKRL6/ In the above …
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 …
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.