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.
Guanock House needs a trainee topiary artist! Some of you may know it as the first home and garden of designer Arne Maynard, but is now owned and maintained by Michael Coleman and his wife Michelle. They offer meditation workshops and retreats there and it is as beautiful a house and garden as you could wish to visit. They called me in last Autumn to help shape up some of the topiary as it was all getting out of hand, but what it really needs is someone with a steady hand and lots of patience to take over the clipping …
Here are some photos of work I have been doing at the garden of Charlotte Molesworth in Kent. Snow and ice brings out the depth of the different planes and angles carved into the boxwood. A garden has to look beautiful in winter – and topiary (green architecture) helps do that! For more topiary pictures, click here.
How To Use Topiary In The Garden is my new talk, which I first gave last year via Zoom for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society. Returning to Zoom again, there are two dates available to see and hear the talk: March 16th – Book your ticket here April 6th – Book your ticket here The talk is great fun, perfect for keen gardeners or people who want to know how to improve their garden with hedges and architectural plants. How To Use Topiary In The Garden looks at how to move away from the idea topiary is twee or old-fashioned, …