January 3, 2016
The concept of training plants into topiary is a centuries old tradition. Topiary is the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, whether geometric or fanciful. The term also refers to plants which have been shaped in this way, as an art form it is a type of living sculpture. The plants used in topiary are evergreen, mostly woody, have small leaves or needles, produce dense foliage, and have compact and/or columnar growth habits. I’d say the most common species chosen for topiary is the boxwood or “European box” however arborvitae, bay laurel, holly, myrtle, yew and privet are all widely used. I love a simple boxwood ball (or may as the case my be above). It’s such a happy shape, the form is classic, the technique time honored.
This is a perfect example of how adaptable boxwood is, look at how sharp this stair detail is. It’s just so chic. The picture below was inspiration for a “redo” of our small garden in front of the beach house. We pulled out everything but a climbing rose and planted different sized boxwood spheres. For greater visual interest we under planted with bulbs of white tulips and purple allium. I can’t wait for spring!
And this is my back yard in the City. The garden is asleep (taken late november) but the form of the boxwood is something I count on in the winter months to give the yard color, and structure. Please excuse the sofa cover. There is nothing prettier than a dusting of boxwood on a boxwood.
Above is an image of my garden a few years ago and a different application of boxwood, grown into a knot garden. We planted different types of hosta in each of the diamond shapes formed by the boxwood. In my head it looked like the image below, maybe not quite… But you gotta start somewhere. The Dogwood tree is certainly bigger now, and the X’s more clearly clipped.