Category Archives: Topiary

Nice hedge pictures

Just to say that there are some lovely pictures of ornamental hedges of all sorts here.


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Topiary elephants

Neatly combining two of my favourite things, here is a picture of some topiary elephants near to Richmond.

Apparently Brad and Angelina have stayed at this house recently and the rumour is that Posh and Becks may be moving in. According to a copy of Grazia which has inexplicably found its way into my house…


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Irregular hedges at Montacute

At the Garden Media Awards* ceremony yesterday I was talking to Paula, a journalist, who had a lonicera hedge that had been squashed into a lop-sided shape by the snow. She went to some trouble to cloud-prune it, only to be informed by her teenage son that it “looked like a turd”. She eventually cut it down though she is planning to plant a new one, possibly beech.

This anecdote reminded me of the strange patterns of the yew hedges at Montacute in Somerset – the winter of 1947 left one hedge weighed down by snow and twisted into new shapes. But over the following years, the gardeners tended the result, and added the same effect to an opposing hedge, giving the garden an intentionally abstract feel.

There’s a nice picture of a rather precarious looking gardener at Montacute here.

* I didn’t win the inspirational book category, which was won by Led by the Land but the lunch was excellent and it was all good fun.

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A Heart-Shaped Hedge

This one is courtesy of Melissa Harrison, a nice bit of topiary:

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Guess the animal – sidestreet topiary hedge in Hammersmith

I used to work in Hammersmith on the Fulham Palace Road, and often walked past this rather lovely hedge down one of the side streets. I put a picture of it in the book and one of Miki’s colleagues showed it to her – it is her creation so she got in touch with me.

She’s sent me these up to date pictures of the hedge. Still not sure what animal it is but my current bet is a Scottie dog – Miki assures me it is still a work in progress, so it’s one to keep an eye on.

Edit: Miki tells me: “a Scottie it is….my favourite aunt / relative always had Scotties and this is for her. She was a French resident but bought her Scotties here in England due to inbreeding in France. I can’t get the Scottie square jaw quite right and the ‘coat’ is thinning at the side.  Ah well…”


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Another Elephant Topiary

Gavin Hogg, who lives near Powys, was kind enough to send me a couple of photos of the topiary elephants he created – there is a picture in the book, and here is the one that I didn’t use.

I think Radio 4 is moving on to topiary tomorrow, something a bit lighter after the relatively dense stuff about landscape and enclosures today.


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Calling all garden designers and topiarists…

Does anyone want to create a jubilee topiary? Ideally involving a hedge but not necessarily…

A journalist has contacted me about doing an article around the publication date of the book – his idea is for us to go off somewhere and observe someone creating a jubliee topiary or something along those lines, perhaps a union jack shape or crown. I thought this might be an opportunity for someone to get a bit of publicity for their garden or the garden they are working on.

If anyone is interested, contact me at

Here is a related example, Lucy Boston’s topiaries at Hemingford Grey, created to celebrate the coronation in 1952 – they were originally intended to be two pairs of crowns and two pairs of orbs.  That year they weren’t fully grown so she clipped them as best she could then tied in extra yew branches from the many trees in the garden. As they grew, one of the crowns seemed to want to be a different shape and she eventually cut it into a dove of peace. Her daughter-in-law Diana Boston still tends the garden today – it is a lovely little garden to which visitors are welcome – especially interesting if like me you are a fan of the Green Knowe books, as she based the house and garden in those stories closely on her own house and garden, so you can recognise elements such as the bamboo hedge where the children play, and Tolly’s green deer.


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