The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Topiary a brief history see pics on Goypeadia


By drc726


Is it a ship is it a plane? No its my trimmed box
Goypeadia has a topiary category and will be looking to add pictures I will be editing this and hope you will contribute or nominate pictures, enjoy it and see the fun side too. Thanks Denise.
A Brief History:
Bacon wrote in 1624 ‘Images cut in Juniper or garden stuff they be for children’ . Thus the argument that is still relevant today.
Like it or not Topiary is important in the history of European gardening, be it an ugly and an unnatural form or a useful, pleasing part of garden design.
Most gardeners that cut their bushes into special shapes do so because they like it, with often no idea that Topiary was practiced by the ancient Egyptians and that the Persian Empire had grand hedges shaped from Myrtle. The art of Topiary – the clipping of trees and shrubs into geometrical or fanciful shapes was practiced by the Romans.

After the fall of the Roman empire a type of plain topiary was continued by monks in the medieval monasteries of Europe and this influenced what was later seen in the shaped trees and boxed edged flower beds in 15th century manor houses.
The transformation of British gardens began after Kings Charles 11 returned from exile where he had visited the gardens of the french landscape architect Le Notre’s. Later William and Mary added the dutch influence making the 17th century the height of the Topiary craze. The King built a mock Fort from Yew and Holly, but then Topiary fell from favour and nearly all of this early work was lost.
Most of the grand house Topiary we see today is less than 100 years old. As again in 19th century out had come the shears the small clippers and the wire to train the branches.
Although Topiary can be seen at places like Hever Castle Kent, Levens Hall Cumbria, Rockingham Castle Northants, Mount Stewart Northern Ireland, Powys Castle Wales and Crathes Castle Scotland. The sheer numbers of labourers needed to maintain it means that is unlikely ever to come back on a grand scale.
But in gardens across Britain it can still be seen from the box hedges enclosing flower/herbs and the front door step box balls to much more adventurous ones in some suburban gardens.

More blog posts by drc726

Previous post: changing ativars

Next post: Garden pests?



That was interesting. I enjoy some historical background to out plants. Thank you.

18 Nov, 2009


Interesting blog Drc. I have always wanted to do topiary and the nearest I have got so far is my 2 box cones. I have a postcard with a photo of an old guy who had clipped the top of his hedges to look like Scottie dogs in a row.
Christopher Lloyds father was a big fan of topiary and wrote a book on it early in the last century

18 Nov, 2009


I admire the cloud cut ? yews at Powys Castle,they are fantastic. We visited there briefly many years ago. I keep promising myself I might do it with my miniature shrubbery but never quite follow through. thanks drc. There is a nursery on a B road out of Sawbrideworth over the level crossing that has all sizes of Box on display cut in many different shapes. Ok if you have had a decent Premium bond come up.

18 Nov, 2009


Thanks Hywel I like history and the garden has an interesting one.

Oh Pipsqueak I have some box that looks like balls till overdo it and they go out off shape for a bit. Those Scotties sound great fun. Chris Lloyds father I will look that up as the victorians revived it.

I went to Powys castle some years ago on holiday lovely place. Perhaps next time you visit the nursery you will feel inclined to take some pics of their topiary Dorjac?

18 Nov, 2009


I am a great fan of topiary, we have several box balls , not very adventurous I know, I have a cloud pruned variegated box which is my pride and joy, went a little bit mad last year, so it looks sick at the moment.
Have to agree about Powys Castle most impressive.

18 Nov, 2009


Dotty your pics are on the Topiary page hope you will be taking more? I have found a lot to put on it already.

18 Nov, 2009


Are they?

18 Nov, 2009



18 Nov, 2009


And so they are, thanks for that........will add more when this lovely spell of weather is over!!

20 Nov, 2009


Wet and grey here too!!

20 Nov, 2009

Add a comment

Featured on

Recent posts by drc726

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    2 Nov, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    4 Feb, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    10 Nov, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    18 Jun, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    14 Aug, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    27 Sep, 2008