topiarist • formal, free form & geometric designs •box & yewclipping, consultancy, pest & disease management

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Hidcote Yew Topiary Birds

Yew Topiary Birds at Hidcote After 110 Years of Clipping

The gardens at Hidcote Manor are now open over the weekends during the winter. I’m so pleased the National Trust has decided to do this as it gives the opportunity to appreciate the bare bones of the garden without the distraction of the beautiful flowering borders and leafy trees. Lawrence Johnston was the man responsible for the creation of the garden. In 1907 he began building a series of ‘garden rooms’, divided mainly by yew hedging. The Arts and Crafts philosophy was a major influence in Johnston’s designs, of which topiary plays an important part. Between 1907 and 1914 the…

beech topiary

The Changing Colours of Beech Topiary

Finished my last clipping job of 2019 – a large, very long and awkward beech hedge. I started out doing a lot of hedge work. It’s a great way to train the eye and practice cutting straight lines. Most of my work now is with topiary. The only hedge work would be a low box hedge as part of a parterre or knot garden. But I do keep in touch with this long awkward beech hedge because it is in a garden that has the six topiary beech (Fagus Sylvatica) trees that I have become very fond of. I like…

Irish yew topiary

Reshaping An Avenue of Irish Yew

Finished a project last week reshaping an avenue of Irish Yew. The yews had grown too large and were starting to dominate the space. The original plan was to undertake a major renovation by cutting the yews back to a solid framework of branches. This would have reduced the size of the yews but is a long term solution as they would have taken at least five years to recover. Also many of the yews were missing their central stems after previous renovations so cutting back to a framework would have been difficult. So instead it was decided to give…

Looking at Box Topiary Designs from a Different Perspective

As I had my tall tripod ladder with me the other day, I thought it would be interesting to see what a couple of designs I work on look like from above. Symmetry is important with this first box topiary design. The last couple of years I have been working on developing the curves and leaf shapes to match up as closely as possible. The domes have required some careful clipping to achieve consistency with their sizes. Still requires more work but starting to make progress. Unfortunately blight is a constant issue with these box plants. But with the help…

Yew Hedge Restoration

Removing Vertical Growth When Restoring Yew Hedges

I’ve been working on restoring the shape to a yew hedge this week so thought it would be a good opportunity to show the importance of cutting out vertical growth. This technique applies to restoring both yew hedges and yew topiary. If a yew has been left untrimmed, or has been badly clipped in the past, then thick, long stems can start to grow up on the outside of the hedge. These will thicken over time, causing the hedge to bulge and sag. Ignoring these stems and running the hedge trimmer or shears up over this vertical growth can create…