Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Topiary ‘is back in fashion’

There are many different things that contribute to the overall look and feel of a garden, none of which are to be underestimated.

Indeed, while certain styles may come and go, it is important not to forget the practical applications of certain considerations.

For instance, in an article for the Daily Telegraph, professional gardener and author of Keeping a Few Hens in Your Garden Francine Raymond suggested that topiary has gone out of fashion of late.

However, she added that it is currently enjoying a comeback, even acknowledging the fact that she had been initially critical of it until recently.

Ms Raymond explained that she met a friend of a friend who turned out to be the editor of Topiarius – the journal of the European Boxwood and Topiary Society.

Having been dismissive at first, she asserted that she came to develop a deeper understanding of the importance of topiary.

"Green architecture has always formed the backbone of the best gardens – Levens Hall in Cumbria is the template," the expert commented, adding: "Box, yew and bay have been traditionally used for hedging, parterres, mazes and flights of fancy involving animals, birds, chess pieces and sculptural fantasies."

Box can be a particularly popular choice for many gardeners and the plant forms part of the buxus genus – more commonly referred to as boxwood in the US.

These are slow-growing evergreen shrubs that can grow to be anywhere between two and 12 meters tall. Their leaves are rounded to lanceolate and leathery, as well as being very small – usually only 1.5 to five cm long.

Planting ahead is always advisable, no matter what you choose to plant. Atmospheric and oceanic sciences expert Scott Spak recently told the Daily Iowan that the US Department of Agriculture always checks the length of the season before it commits to offering advice.

He explained that some plants can withstand colder kinds of weather than others.

However, those who have access to a greenhouse could take advantage of the space to maintain a greater degree of control over the conditions that plants are exposed to.

Despite this, it is outdoor spaces that provide a greater range of opportunities for individual expression.

"Topiary offers the opportunity to express ourselves in the garden, create our own sculptures and avoid the many pitfalls that lie in wait among the plethora of garden features and statuary on the market," Ms Raymond explained.