Box Beehives in the Cotswolds

I visit a private residence in the Cotswolds every year to trim their box topiary, which includes a wonderful geometric design of large box beehives on the main lawn. Really simple but very effective at breaking up a large area of green grass. Also adds perspective to the garden and frames the stunning countryside view when looking out from the house. I’m not sure of the specific variety of box but it is a tougher type with leaves and stems thicker than common Buxus sempervirens. This helps the large box beehives to hold their shape, even with adverse weather conditions…

Box and Yew Topiary in a Beautifully Designed London Garden

This year I enjoyed trimming and shaping box balls, box domes, cloud pruned ilex crenata and yew squares in a lovey, urban garden in Notting Hill, London. The garden was cleverly designed by Butter Wakefield, to make the most of a small, lightly shaded space. Overhanging trees and a stunning multi stem Betula nigra (River Birch) create wonderful dappled light under which the topiary thrives. I also shaped the Viburnum tinus hedging at the end of the garden with curves and undulations to create a simple cloud pruned design that links the space with communal gardens beyond. Herbaceous perennials and…

Restoring Yew Topiary Back From Tunnels to Triangles

Last week I worked on restoring some yew to their original triangular design. The yew had been allowed to grow to create two tunnels. Although a lovely idea, the yew never really knitted together sufficiently to create solid tunnels. This probably could have been achieved but it would have taken many years of careful trimming, thinning and tying in. On a practical level it was very difficult to trim the tops of the tunnels using a long reach hedge trimmer and ladders. Taking the time to set up platforms was not cost effective and this would have been difficult with…

Linking a Garden with Doorways in Hedges

Recently I have become mildly obsessed with doorways cut into hedges. I think they are a wonderful way for large gardens to link different areas. Too often hedges are seen as static features, acting as a barrier to divide one area from another. By cutting a doorway the hedge’s purpose changes and becomes an integral part of the garden design, linking rather than preventing access. And there is also something ‘Alice in Wonderland’ about them, appealing to our human nature to explore. I am lucky by living in the Cotswolds to have two gardens nearby that utilise hedge doorways with…

Beat Box Blight with Curved Tops on Box Hedging

I have noticed box blight affects the top part of hedges and topiary more than the base. The top is where the fungal infection seems to thrive, causing the most defoliation and stem damage. My approach with box blight infections is to treat the hedge twice a year with a commercial grade fungicide and encourage the gardener or homeowner to adopt good gardening practices such as watering from the base, regularly sterilising clipping tools and clearing up as much fallen box leaf litter as possible. So far this approach has had good success. The fungicide helps stop the infection getting…

Restoring Old Yew Topiary

As I was working in Dorset the other weekend, I took the opportunity to visit the beautiful Mapperton House gardens. Their ‘Pool Garden’ is lined with large, cone-shaped yew topiary. Some of the yew topiary has become misshapen over time and I was pleased to see the brave decision has been taken to restore a few to their original shape. This type of restoration is not for the faint hearted. It involves hard cutting the yew back into the old wood. The beauty of yew is that it will regrow from old wood. But this does take time. Probably two…