June 14, 2024


Home is a place where we can be happy

British Yard Designer Arne Maynard on Topiary Structure

I even now vividly remember noticing topiary for the to start with time. I was just 3 or 4 a long time aged, riding the bus into the nearby marketplace city near where we lived in Dorset to go browsing with my mother. I constantly wished to sit upstairs so I could see above the hawthorn hedge of a particular house we passed, enthralled by the amazing wedding ceremony-cake clipped yew in the front garden. It was so exact, so properly fashioned, and I was mesmerized.

arne maynard side garden topiary garden wales
A lattice of box, collectively with yew domes and box balls, presents framework to softer plantings in Maynard’s side backyard.

Britt Willoughby Dyer

In practically all the gardens I’ve created all around the globe considering the fact that I started my observe in 1986, I have used topiary to some degree, no question affected by those people early memories. Customarily, topiary was regarded as a very formal component, associated with big, grand gardens and set out in rigid designs to intensify axes and punctuate formal areas. Opulence in garden style, together with the use of these clipped designs, was normally a image of status, signifying prosperity and energy. However, my desire is for a more informal, asymmetrical style, utilizing uncomplicated shapes—domes, balls, and layered cones—to provide an component of entertaining to a backyard garden. This model is impressed by the additional naïve, organic styles discovered in modest cottage gardens—often released by gardeners who were being utilized by grander houses and who desired a tiny whimsy in their spaces.

the east garden at hatfield house in hertfordshire
The East Garden at Hatfield Residence in Hertfordshire, with commanding cylindrical topiaries marching down a parterre avenue.


Both way, topiary provides long term framework to a yard. In their the latest e book, Winter season Gardens, Clare Foster and Andrew Montgomery eloquently demonstrate how planted structure holds the yard together around the winter months, its bare bones uncovered and its power emphasized by a dusting of snow or glistening frost. It is this toughness and elegance that I attempt for, utilizing a selection of trees and styles to accomplish a harmonious group of “players” that have you by and close to a back garden, main the way and marking changes in its atmosphere or tempo.

levens hall, the worlds oldest topiary garden   circa 17th century 90  pieces clipped from yew   taxus baccata and aurea and box cut into shapes   peacocks, figures or chess pieces
The topiary back garden at Levens Hall in Cumbria, intended by Guillaume Beaumont (college student of Versailles visionary André Le Nôtre), is an instance of the 17th­-century Dutch style, the place extremely theatrical forms rise from scaled-down garden areas.


I love that topiary is taking pleasure in a renaissance right now. We’re viewing it applied extra in modern backyard garden design, where by shapes like platforms and cubes choose up the design and style and style of modern day qualities and anchor a larger house in its landscape. Similarly, topiary can feel incredibly Elizabethan—an period I am constantly impressed by—bringing scale and antiquity to a house. Domes and balls can soften gateways and transition factors. And by clipping native trees, this kind of as discipline maple, we can lessen the diploma of formality, adding an component of shock and naivety. Copper beech is a popular preference in contemporary patterns, pleached or clipped in levels or spirals, but also fits a lot more historic landscapes and provides further shade to the backyard garden in colder months as it retains its dried bronze leaves until finally the new progress pushes as a result of in spring. Yew and box can add body weight and, grouped carefully alongside one another, can aid give a sense of enclosure, secrecy, or suspense.

clipped yew columns   taxus baccata   and reflective pool in the silent garden at scampston hall walled garden, north yorkshire, uk
At North Yorkshire’s Scampston Hall, mod­ernist yew sculptures by Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf.


I continue on to be inspired by gardens that rejoice the artwork of topiary, these kinds of as Levens Hall in Cumbria where a adore of clipped trees is a should for website visitors! Its exuberance and sheer scale flawlessly showcase topiary as a horticultural artwork form. Even a fleeting visit to this garden—or any of the numerous great topiary displays—is a amazing tonic, inviting you to immerse on your own in the trees and marvel at their elegance.

This short article at first appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of VERANDA. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer illustrations by Tug Rice made by Dayle Wood created by Arne Maynard

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