September 12


Ways to Incorporate Clipped Evergreens in Garden Design: Exploring the Art of Topiary

Topiary – 15 ways to use clipped evergreens in garden design

When it comes to garden design, one popular technique is the art of topiary. Clipping evergreens into geometric shapes or whimsical creatures can add a touch of style and definition to your outdoor spaces. Whether you have a large garden or a small, limited space, there are many ways to incorporate these clipped specimens into your design.

If you’re new to topiary, the idea of trimming and shaping your evergreen plants may seem daunting. However, with the right tools and a little practice, you can easily prune them into the desired form. In fact, as gardener Sarah Bowles explains, “Topiary is like giving your plants a haircut. Just like you would visit a hairdresser to maintain your own style, your plants need some trimming to keep them looking their best.”

One useful aspect of topiary is that it works year-round. While many plants go dormant in winter, evergreens continue to grow, making them perfect for filling the scale in your garden during the colder months. Additionally, their year-round green color can provide a hard touch of definition and structure, especially in contemporary gardens where clean lines and geometric shapes are preferred.

There are many options when it comes to topiary. You can create traditional standards, such as trimmed cubes or spheres, which are often seen framing entrances or lining pathways. For a more whimsical touch, consider shaping evergreens into animals, clouds, or even a bowles of fruit. These playful shapes can add a touch of fun to your garden or provide an interesting focal point within a larger planting scheme.

Topiary is not limited to evergreens. Other plants that lend themselves well to clipping include yews, hedges, and frost-hardy shrubs. If you’re looking to create a strong statement, consider using wire frames to guide the growth of your plants. These frames can help you create intricate and eye-catching shapes, such as spirals or rows. You can attach the wire frames to your plants while they are still young and then trim them as they grow to maintain the desired shape.

Topiary – ideas and expert advice

Choosing the right plants

Choosing the right plants

When it comes to topiary, not all plants are suitable for clipping and shaping. Some evergreens lend themselves better to this art form than others. Prunus, boxwood, yew, and holly are among the top choices for creating topiary shapes. They have dense foliage and respond well to clipping.

Jeff Wyer, a topiary expert, advises that you choose plants with smaller leaves, as they are easier to shape and maintain. In addition, he suggests selecting plants with slow growth, so they don’t need frequent pruning.

Creating the desired shape

  • Start with a young plant: For best results, choose young plants that haven’t been pruned yet. This will give you more control over the shape you want to create.
  • Be patient: Topiary takes time and patience. Shape the plant gradually, giving it time to adjust to each pruning. Rushing the process can damage the plant.
  • Use the right tools: To achieve crisp and clean cuts, make sure you have sharp shears or clippers. Dull tools can cause damage to the plant and result in sloppy cuts.
  • Work with the plant’s natural growth: Look at the natural growth pattern of the plant and utilize it in your shaping. Follow the natural rhythm of the branches to create flowing, organic shapes.

Designing with topiary

Topiary can add a touch of elegance and charm to any garden or outdoor space. Whether you have a large estate or a small urban balcony, there are topiary styles that can suit your needs.

Gavin Bowles, a landscape architect, suggests using topiary to create formal hedges or to frame entrances. The sharp, geometric shapes of topiary can bring a sense of order and structure to any garden.

For those with smaller spaces, topiary can be used to create a focal point or add a touch of greenery without taking up much space. Clipping evergreens into neat shapes like cubes or cones can make a small balcony or patio feel smart and polished.

Trends in topiary

Topiary has become increasingly popular in recent years, and there are some trends to keep an eye out for:

  1. Magical topiary: Creating whimsical shapes like animals or fantasy creatures has become a popular trend. These unique topiary designs can add a playful touch to any garden.
  2. Combining topiary with herbaceous plants: Mixing topiary with flowering plants can create a dynamic and interesting garden design. The clipped evergreens provide structure and form, while the herbaceous plants add color and texture.
  3. Using topiary in shady areas: Topiary can be a great solution for shady spots in your garden where other plants may struggle to thrive. Evergreens like yew and boxwood can tolerate shade and still maintain their shape and quality.

Expert advice

According to Jeff Wyer, the key to successful topiary is regular maintenance and attention. Make sure to prune your topiary plants at least once a year to maintain their shape and keep them looking their best.

He also suggests being mindful of the size of the topiary plants and choosing ones that won’t outgrow their designated space. Planning ahead and considering the future growth of the plants will save you from having to constantly reshape and prune them.

Gavin Bowles recommends that you don’t be afraid to get creative with your topiary designs. Experiment with different shapes and styles, and don’t be afraid to break the rules. Topiary is a form of art, and it should reflect your personal style and taste.

In conclusion, topiary can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to any garden. With the right plants, proper shaping techniques, and a little patience, you can create beautiful and unique topiary designs that will transform your outdoor space.

1 Create a visual contrast

One of the key benefits of using clipped evergreens in garden design is the ability to create a visual contrast in the outdoor space. By carefully selecting and shaping these plants, you can add interest and depth to your garden.

Jeff Rowe, a landscaping expert, advises that creating a visual contrast starts with choosing the right plants. He suggests using evergreens with different leaf colors and sizes. For instance, you can combine dark green prunus with lighter taxus for a striking contrast. By placing these plants side by side, you can create a captivating visual effect.

When considering the desired effect, it’s important to also take into account the surrounding elements. Rowe recommends thinking about the color of the adjacent plants, as well as the overall scale of the garden. By carefully selecting and placing clipped evergreens, you can create a balanced and harmonious design.

Clipping evergreens also allows you to control the shape and structure of your garden. By carefully trimming and shaping the plants, you can create different styles and shapes. For example, you can create a formal knot garden by clipping the plants into geometric shapes. Alternatively, you can create a more relaxed and natural look by allowing the plants to grow more freely.

Another useful aspect of clipped evergreens is their ability to add interest in winter. Unlike herbaceous plants that die back in winter, evergreens provide year-round visual appeal. By clipping the plants in the desired shape, you can create a strong visual impact even during the dull winter months.

For the best results, it’s important to be patient and consistent with your clipping. Rowe advises starting the clipping process in July, which allows the plants to grow and form the desired shape by winter. He also suggests investing in good quality clippers to ensure clean and precise cuts.

By using clipped evergreens to create a visual contrast, you can transform the outside view of your garden. Whether you’re looking to add structure, color, or a touch of rhythm to your designs, these plants can be a smart addition to any garden. So why not give it a try and add some clipped evergreens to your landscaping this year?

2 Replicate oriental shaping

There is a shady side to topiary, as ancient oriental gardens were designed with clipped evergreens centuries before our trend for contemporary geometric forms caught on. As Wyer explains, “They provide definition, scale and rhythm, bringing a sense of order and calm to gardens in an artistic and magical way.”

Gavin McWilliam regularly uses topiary to add structure to larger designs. “I love using evergreens such as taxus or buxus in oriental style gardens where rhythm is created through repetition,” he says. “Pairing two shapes together, such as a cube and a more cloud-like shape, can be particularly effective.”

Replicating oriental shaping doesn’t have to be direct. Wyer suggests using wire to attach evergreen shapes to frames, so they can be moved around as required. “Frames can be placed among grasses and leafed plants, or even attached to entrances to create a focal point,” he says.

For those with less time and skill, the convenience of smaller evergreen plants with regular clipping to maintain their geometric shapes can be employed year-round. In making some simple shapes–triangle, half sphere, and cube – as a backbone to the garden and then clipping three much larger ones into the more difficult cloud shape Gavin was able to control the garden’s form far more effectively.

“I also find that having blocks of clipped evergreen grouped together can be better than adding individual shapes to fill spaces,” he explains. “Taxus in particular has great color and structure when it’s clipped into. It is more interesting than some other evergreens and works well mixed with other evergreens of different colors. It makes a perfect year-round frame for a garden, while also making the space look less bare.”

3 Plant a topiary forest

One smart way to incorporate topiary into your garden design is to create a topiary forest. This style is particularly useful if you have a larger garden or a limited number of plants to work with. By planting a group of closely spaced, pruned trees or shrubs, you can create the illusion of a dense forest.

To achieve this look, start by choosing a type of plant that responds well to shaping and pruning. Buxus (boxwood), Ilex (holly), and Prunus (cherry) are some popular choices for topiary. These plants have dense foliage that can be easily trimmed into desired shapes.

Plant your chosen shrubs close together to create a dense cluster of foliage. This will help to mimic the look of a forest, where trees grow closely together. You can choose to shape your shrubs into similar styles, such as spheres or cones, or you can mix different shapes for a more eclectic look.

To maintain the forest style, it’s important to regularly trim and shape your shrubs. This will help to maintain the desired shape and keep them looking neat and well-groomed. Repeat trimming and pruning at least once a year, or as needed to keep the shape intact.

When designing a topiary forest, it’s important to consider the overall rhythm and flow of the space. Try to create a sense of movement by placing taller shrubs or trees towards the back and shorter ones towards the front. This will create depth and make the forest feel more dynamic.

Planting a topiary forest can provide a strong focal point in your garden and create a sense of structure and definition. The evergreen foliage will also add color and interest year-round, particularly during the winter months when other plants may be less leafed out.

If you’re not confident in your pruning skills, it may be helpful to seek advice from a professional horticulturist or garden designer. They can provide guidance on the best styles and techniques for shaping your shrubs, as well as tips for maintaining their health and vitality.

By planting a topiary forest, you can bring a touch of elegance and style to your outdoor space. So why not gather a team of shrubs, sharpen your shears, and get trimming?

4 Use frames for creative shapes

If you like more structured and geometric forms, using frames can be a great option to shape your topiaries. Frames can be made from various materials such as metal or wood and they can help guide the growth of your herbaceous or evergreen plants.

Selecting the right frame

  • Frames come in all shapes and sizes, so you can choose a style that suits your garden design. Whether you prefer simple geometric shapes like cubes or spheres, or more intricate shapes like animals or objects, there are plenty of options to choose from.
  • Gavin advises considering the height and size of your plants when selecting a frame. Larger frames can be paired with taller shrubs, while smaller frames work well with shorter plants.
  • When choosing a frame, keep in mind the growth habits of your chosen plants. Some plants, like Prunus or Ilex, naturally have a more upright and columnar growth habit, which can be enhanced by using tall and narrow frames. Other plants, like boxwood, have a more spreading growth habit, so selecting a wider frame would be more suitable.

Making and maintaining the shape

  • Once you have selected the frame, it’s important to regularly clip and prune the plants to maintain the desired shape. This can be a task that requires patience, as it may take some time for the plants to grow and fill in the frame.
  • Jeff, a horticulture expert, suggests using strong and sharp pruning tools to achieve clean cuts and avoid damaging the plants. He advises clipping the plants regularly, whether it is to maintain the shape or to encourage new growth.
  • Remember that topiaries can serve as eye-catching focal points in your garden, so it’s important to give them a touch of creativity and repeat the shapes throughout the space. For example, you can group several cube-shaped topiaries together or place them strategically at entrances to create a sense of symmetry.

Using frames for topiaries can add a touch of magic and creativity to your garden. By selecting the right frame and maintaining the shape regularly, you can create eye-catching designs that become the focal points of your landscape.

5 Design a decorative topiary hedge

Creating a decorative topiary hedge can add a touch of elegance and structure to your garden. Jeff Bowles, the editor of Topiary Review, explains that a topiary hedge is a row of shrubs that have been carefully pruned and trimmed into specific shapes. This type of hedge is particularly useful in contemporary gardens, where clean lines and geometric forms are on-trend.

When choosing the shrubs for your topiary hedge, it is important to consider their growth habits and quality. Gavin Hills, a topiary expert, advises selecting evergreens that have a strong upright growth habit and dense foliage. Some popular choices include boxwood, yew, and holly. These evergreens are known for their ability to be pruned and shaped, making them ideal for creating topiary forms.

Before starting the design process, it is important to determine the height and length of your topiary hedge. Bowles recommends using stakes and a string to mark out the desired shape before pruning begins. This will ensure that the hedge is symmetrical and aligns with the overall design of the garden. Once the height and length have been determined, you can begin to prune the shrubs into the desired shapes.

There are many options when it comes to topiary hedge shapes. Some popular choices include spheres, cones, pyramids, and even whimsical animal and geometric shapes. Bowles suggests starting with simple shapes like spheres or cones, as they are easier to achieve and maintain. As you gain more experience with pruning, you can experiment with more intricate and unique shapes.

To create the topiary shapes, you will need sharp hand shears or electric trimmers. Make sure to keep the blades sharp and clean to ensure clean cuts. Bowles recommends starting from the top of the shrub and working your way down, trimming small sections at a time. This will help maintain symmetry and prevent any mistakes. It is also important to step back and view your work from a distance to get a better sense of the overall shape.

If you want to create a more contemporary look, you can attach wire frames to the shrubs to guide the pruning process. This allows you to create more precise shapes and lines. However, Bowles advises using this technique sparingly, as it can take away from the natural beauty of the shrubs.

Once your topiary hedge is complete, it is important to maintain its shape by regular pruning. Bowles suggests pruning at least once a year, preferably in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This will help keep the shape of the hedge intact and prevent it from becoming overgrown. Additionally, regular pruning will encourage new growth and make the shrubs even denser, creating a solid backdrop for your garden.

If you have a shady garden or smaller spaces, Bowles recommends using boxwood as it tolerates shade well and can be easily pruned into smaller shapes. For bigger gardens with more space, yew and holly are good choices as they can be pruned into larger forms that make a strong visual impact.

Whether you want a formal and symmetrical topiary hedge or a whimsical and playful feature, a decorative topiary hedge can add structure and beauty to your garden. It serves as a focal point and can be used to define entrances or create boundaries within your outdoor space. By following these tips and tricks, you can create a topiary hedge that is a true work of art.

6 Add topiary in different shapes

One of the most captivating ways to incorporate topiary into garden design is by pairing different shapes together. By planting two or more topiary forms side by side, you can create a visually interesting and unique content in your garden.

If you have a shady area in your garden, consider using topiary forms to add interest and texture. Choose shade-tolerant shrubs that can be pruned into various shapes, such as boxwood, yew, or holly. By introducing topiary plants to these spaces, you can brighten up the area and give it a lively look.

When selecting topiary plants, be sure to choose ones that suit the overall style and theme of your garden. Trimmed hedges, spirals, cubes, and other geometric shapes work well in formal gardens, while whimsical shapes like animals or characters can add a playful touch to more relaxed designs.

Creating topiary shapes can be a time-consuming process, as it requires patience and regular maintenance. But with the right tools and techniques, you can easily shape shrubs into perfect forms. Start by shaping smaller plants into desired shapes, and once they have grown larger, you can trim them to maintain the defined structure.

If you’re not sure where to start, Jeff, our gardening editor, suggests trying cloud pruning or ilex crenata. Cloud pruning involves shaping shrubs into billowing, cloud-like mounds, while ilex crenata is a versatile shrub that can be pruned into various shapes, including spheres or cones.

Another option is to use topiary grasses to add a touch of rhythm to your garden. By planting ornamental grasses with golden or copper tones and shaping them into desired forms, you can create a stunning contrast against the green foliage of your topiary plants.

Topiary shapes can provide a sense of definition and structure to your garden. By using them as a backbone feature, you can create well-defined spaces that are visually appealing and inviting.

One thing to keep in mind when using topiary in your garden is that it requires maintenance. Regular pruning and trimming are necessary to keep the shapes looking their best. Be sure to choose the right tools for the job and always take care when shaping the plants.

Whether you’re going for a magical, whimsical look or a more traditional style, there are endless options when it comes to using topiary in your garden. The key is to have fun with it and let your creativity shine through.

7 Enhance entrances with topiary in containers

Using topiary in containers is a great way to scale down the size and add a touch of elegance to entrance areas. Whether you have a large or small entrance, topiary in containers can create a sense of rhythm and perfect symmetry.

One option is to use herbaceous plants in containers, paired with trimmed evergreens. This combination allows for year-round interest and provides a point of focus from the side or the front. For smaller spaces, choose evergreen shrubs that can be easily maintained and trimmed regularly to keep their formal look.

Topiary in containers can give you the flexibility to change the look of your entrance throughout the year. For example, you can choose plants that bloom during different seasons to create a different atmosphere. In winter, evergreens like Ilex can be paired with frost-resistant plants to add a touch of magical charm.

When it comes to container design, the options are only limited by the gardener’s imagination. You can choose containers in different styles and materials to suit your particular garden style. From classic clay pots to modern metal containers, there are plenty of choices available.

Garden designer, Chris Bowles, explains that topiary in containers works well to enhance entrances because it creates a sense of structure and adds height to the space. He advises using clipped evergreens like boxwood or yew to create geometric shapes or mounds. These shapes can be used as focal points at the entrance or to line a pathway.

If you’re not sure where to start, gardening magazines and websites are a good source of inspiration. They often feature the latest topiary trends and provide advice on how to make the most of your container garden. You can also listen to gardening radio shows or join online gardening forums to get tips and ideas from other gardeners.

Remember, topiary in containers is a versatile tool for adding interest to your entrance areas. It can be easily changed and adapted to suit your needs and style. Experiment with different plant combinations and container designs to find the perfect look for your entrance. With a little bit of clipping and regular maintenance, you can create a stunning entrance that will impress all who visit.

8 Include topiary among naturalistic planting for a modern look

One of the most interesting ways to incorporate topiary into garden design is by combining it with naturalistic planting. By pairing meticulously clipped evergreens with more free-flowing and organic plants, you can create a modern and visually striking look.

Start by selecting your evergreens for topiary. Some popular options include simply prunus, ilex (holly), and taxus (yew). These evergreens are known for their slow growth and ability to be shaped into various forms.

Once you have chosen your evergreens, think about the placement. By strategically positioning your topiary forms among more naturalistic plants, you can create a sense of contrast and tension in the garden.

Jeff Rowe, a topiary gardener and designer, recommends starting with a simple geometric shape, such as a sphere or cube, to create a focal point. From there, you can experiment with different forms and patterns.

Remember to consider the desired height and width of your topiary forms. In a naturalistic planting scheme, taller forms, such as lollipop trees, can add vertical interest and create a sense of rhythm.

It’s important to regularly prune your topiary to maintain the desired shape. Rowe advises that most evergreens can be pruned once or twice a year, depending on their growth rate.

For a more contemporary look, consider using wire structures to shape your topiary forms. These structures can be placed on the outside of the plant and act as a guide for the growth. This method is often used to create more complex shapes, such as clouds or animals.

When combining topiary with naturalistic planting, it’s all about finding the right balance. The evergreens provide structure and backbone to the garden, while the more organic plants soften and complement the clipped forms.

Consider incorporating other design elements, such as mounds and pathways, to create a sense of movement and flow. You can also use topiary as a focal point at the entrance of the garden or to mark specific areas.

Don’t be afraid to play with color and texture when selecting your naturalistic planting. By choosing plants with different foliage and flower colors, you can create a vibrant and visually interesting composition.

In conclusion, including topiary among naturalistic planting can add a modern touch to your garden design. By carefully selecting and pruning your evergreens, and pairing them with more organic plants, you can create a visually striking and dynamic outdoor space.

9 Create structure with topiary

Using topiary in your garden design can help create structure and define spaces. Gavin Rowe, a gardener and topiary expert, explains that topiary can provide the framework and rhythm that a garden needs to better showcase its other elements. By incorporating topiary into your garden, you can create visual interest and a sense of order.

One popular option for topiary is the Ilex, commonly known as holly. Ilex plants can be pruned and shaped to grow into desired forms, such as spheres or cones. These topiary specimens can then feature prominently in your garden, adding a touch of elegance and sophistication. For larger gardens, Ilex topiaries can be particularly beneficial, as their size and bold color stand out against the backdrop of the landscape.

If you prefer a more minimalist approach, consider using taxus or yew. Taxus topiaries can be pruned into simple geometric shapes, such as squares or rectangles, to create a clean and modern look. These topiaries work well in contemporary garden designs, where clean lines and defined shapes are desired.

Another option for creating structure with topiary is to use hedges. Hedges made from boxwood (Buxus) or yew (Taxus baccata) can be trimmed into straight lines or rounded shapes, providing visual definition to outdoor spaces. These hedges can be used to create borders, separate different areas of the garden, or even form hedgerows as natural dividers.

Gavin Rowe recommends experimenting with different topiary designs within your garden to find what best suits your style and space. He advises starting small and gradually adding more topiary as you become more comfortable with the technique. Remember, topiary is a long-term commitment, as the plants can take many years to grow into their desired shapes. However, the results are worth the effort.

When it comes to pruning your topiary, sharp tools are essential. Gavin Rowe suggests using high-quality shears and clippers to achieve clean cuts and maintain the health of the plants. Regular pruning is necessary to keep the topiaries looking their best and to prevent them from becoming overgrown.

One important thing to consider when using topiary in your garden is the effect of frost. Evergreens, including many topiary plants, are susceptible to frost damage. Gavin Rowe advises considering the climate in your area and choosing topiary plants that can withstand cold temperatures. If necessary, protect your topiary during frosty weather with covers or by moving them to a sheltered location.

Whether you want to create a classic knot garden, add some whimsy with cloud-shaped topiaries, or provide structure with neatly trimmed hedges, topiary offers endless design options. Don’t be afraid to get creative and let your imagination guide you in creating a garden that reflects your personal style.

In summary, topiary can be a useful tool in creating structure and defining spaces within your garden. Whether you choose Ilex, taxus, or hedges, carefully pruning and shaping these evergreens can provide the desired framework and rhythm. Consider the climate, sharp tools, and regular pruning to maintain the health and appearance of your topiaries. With topiary, you can turn your garden into a work of art.

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10 Use topiary to add winter interest

In the winter months, when many plants lose their foliage or go dormant, topiary can be a valuable addition to your garden. The clipped evergreens provide structure and interest when other plants may be lacking.

Here are 10 ways to use topiary for winter interest:

  1. Use topiary as focal points: Placing topiary plants in strategic spots in your garden can act as focal points, drawing the eye and adding visual interest to the space.
  2. Create a winter garden: Topiary plants, particularly those with interesting shapes like lollipops or clouds, can transform your garden into a magical winter wonderland.
  3. Introduce color: While many topiary plants are green, some varieties offer colorful foliage, such as Taxus or Ilex. These plants can add a pop of color to your winter garden.
  4. Add rhythm and structure: Topiary can be a useful tool for creating rhythm and structure within your garden. Placing clipped evergreens in a row or geometric pattern can create a sense of order and harmony.
  5. Highlight herbaceous specimens: Topiary can provide a strong backdrop for herbaceous plants. Placing them in front of clipped evergreens can help to showcase their foliage and flowers, even in the winter months.
  6. Use topiary in small spaces: If you have limited garden space, topiary can be a smart choice. Its compact and controlled nature allows you to incorporate greenery into smaller areas.
  7. Create a feature in shady areas: Many topiary plants, like Taxus or Ilex, can tolerate shady conditions. If you have a shady spot in your garden, topiary can be a great addition to add interest and life.
  8. Add whimsical style: Topiary plants can bring a touch of whimsy to your garden. Whether you choose traditional shapes or something more unique, topiary adds a playful element to any space.
  9. Enjoy year-round interest: Unlike many other plants that may go dormant or lose their leaves, topiary provides year-round interest. Its evergreen nature ensures that your garden will look good even in the winter months.
  10. Clip and prune: To maintain the shape and form of your topiary plants, regular clipping and pruning is required. This task can be enjoyable and therapeutic, providing a sense of accomplishment.

By adding topiary to your garden, you can ensure that your outdoor space looks beautiful and interesting year-round. So why not consider incorporating some clipped evergreens into your garden design?

11 Create a knot garden with topiary

One of the most popular ways to incorporate topiary into garden design is by creating a knot garden. This classic style of garden features a series of intricate patterns made from clipped evergreen plants.

A knot garden is like a living work of art, and it requires careful planning and attention to detail to achieve the desired effect. For this reason, it’s a good idea to work with a designer who specializes in topiary.

“When creating a knot garden, it’s important to consider the shapes of the plants you will be using,” advises topiary designer Jane Rowe. “Cubes, spheres, cones, and pyramids are all popular choices.”

To create the framework for your knot garden, you’ll need to use wire or wooden stakes to mark out the design. Once the framework is in place, you can start clipping the plants into the desired shapes and attach them to the wire or stakes.

When choosing plants for your knot garden, it’s important to consider their growth habits and how they will suit the space. Evergreen shrubs like boxwood or yew are often the top choices for knot gardens, as they are easy to shape and maintain.

“The height of the plants is also something to consider,” explains Rowe. “Taller varieties can be used to create focal points or entrances, while shorter plants are better suited for creating intricate patterns.”

A knot garden can be a beautiful feature in a formal garden or as part of a larger landscape design. It adds structure and control to the garden while providing year-round interest.

“The key to a successful knot garden is to maintain the shapes of the plants through regular clipping,” advises Rowe. “Most evergreen plants need to be clipped once or twice a year to keep them looking their best.”

Before you start creating your knot garden, it’s a good idea to research different styles and trends to find the one that suits your garden best. You can also consult with a topiary specialist for advice on the best plants and techniques to use.

Once your knot garden is complete, you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful patterns and shapes you’ve created. Whether viewed from above or at ground level, a well-maintained knot garden is sure to impress.

If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance and formality to your garden, creating a knot garden with topiary is the perfect choice. It’s a timeless design feature that will never go out of style.

12 Introduce cloud pruned topiary

12 Introduce cloud pruned topiary

If you’re looking for unique and eye-catching options for your garden, consider introducing cloud pruned topiary. This style of topiary adds an element of artistry and mystery to your landscape design, creating a focal point that is sure to impress.

Cloud pruning involves sculpting evergreen plants into a framework that mimics the shape of a cloud. This is achieved by carefully trimming and shaping the foliage to create rounded and billowing forms, resembling fluffy clouds. The technique has been used for centuries in Japanese gardens and has gained popularity in recent years.

One of the benefits of cloud pruned topiary is that it works well with a variety of evergreen plants. Taxus and Ilex are popular choices due to their ability to be easily shaped and maintained. Both of these plants grow well in most climates and provide year-round interest with their clipped foliage.

To create cloud pruned topiary, you will need to start with young plants or smaller specimens. It’s important to choose plants that have a strong and healthy growth habit, as they will be easier to shape and maintain over time. By starting with smaller plants, you can also control their growth and keep them in scale with your garden.

Cloud pruned topiary requires patience and regular maintenance to keep the desired shape. It’s important to prune the plants regularly, trimming any growth that goes beyond the desired cloud shape. This can be done throughout the year, but it’s often best to do a more intensive pruning session in winter when the plants are dormant.

The exact techniques for cloud pruning can vary depending on the desired look and style. Some gardeners prefer a more geometric appearance, with sharply defined cloud shapes, while others like a softer and more natural look. Experiment with different pruning styles to find what works best for your garden.

Cloud pruned topiary can be used in a variety of ways in your garden design. They work well as standalone specimens, creating a focal point or a statement piece in your landscape. They can also be repeated in a row or group to create a striking and dramatic effect.

To maintain the health and appearance of your cloud pruned topiary, be sure to provide them with the proper care. This includes watering regularly, especially during dry periods, and fertilizing to encourage strong growth. It’s also important to keep an eye out for any pests or diseases that may affect your plants and take action to control them.

In conclusion, cloud pruned topiary is a unique and visually stunning feature that can enhance any garden. Whether you choose a formal and structured style or a more natural and flowing look, cloud pruned topiary is sure to make a statement. So, go ahead and introduce this captivating technique to your garden and enjoy the beauty it brings.

13 Add height with clipped specimens

Creating height in a garden can be a challenging task, especially when space is limited. However, by introducing clipped evergreens, you can easily add vertical interest and structure throughout the year.

Winter is the perfect time to mark out the desired height and shape for your clipped specimens. Buxus and Ilex are popular choices for this purpose, as their compact growth and dense leafed canopies make them easy to shape and train. For taller designs, you can use wire frames to guide the plants’ growth.

When it comes to selecting the right clipped specimen for your garden, consider the overall design and feel of your space. If you prefer a more formal look, opt for tightly clipped shapes like cones, spirals, or lollipops. For a contemporary feel, go for smart geometrical forms or neat hedges. If your garden leans towards a more natural and forest-like aesthetic, choose looser forms that mimic the rhythm of trees and shrubs.

Start by pruning your plants to create a strong backbone for your design. This can be achieved by pairing taller standards with smaller shrubs. Use copper wire or strong twine to attach these forms together, ensuring they can withstand wind and weather.

If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can also experiment with clipping other plants, such as grasses, into architectural forms. These natural sculptures can provide an interesting focal point and offer a different perspective when viewed from different angles.

Remember, clipped evergreens can be utilized not only in sunny areas but also in shady spots. Select shade-tolerant varieties like Taxus or Ilex aquifolium for these areas. The contrast between the pristine, trimmed forms and the dappled light will create a captivating effect.

In conclusion, by adding height with clipped specimens, you can create an eye-catching feature in your garden that adds structure and interest. Whether you prefer a formal or natural look, there are plenty of options to choose from in the world of clipped evergreens. So go ahead and get creative!

14 Break Up a Lawn with Topiary

Topiary can be a useful tool for creating structure and adding visual interest to your garden. One way to utilize topiary is to break up a large lawn area, providing a framework for the space. Whether you have a small courtyard or a sprawling estate, topiary can add a magical touch and create a focal point in your garden.

Gavin Rowe, an editor at Garden Design Magazine, explains that topiary can simply be used to give a planting a bit of height and frame it for maximum impact. By shaping evergreens into geometric forms, you can introduce a sense of structure and style to your lawn.

One of the most popular topiary styles for breaking up a lawn is the lollipop shape. This involves trimming evergreens into rounded mounds or spheres, creating a clean and contemporary look. Popular evergreen choices for this style include Taxus (yew) and Ilex (holly).

Pairing different topiary styles together can also work well, with mounds and lollipop shapes blending seamlessly to provide visual interest. This allows you to experiment and find the best topiary combination that suits your garden.

When it comes to selecting the right topiary for your lawn, it’s important to choose evergreens that are suitable for your climate and growing conditions. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary tools, such as sharp pruning shears, to properly maintain your topiary.

Whether you have a formal or informal garden, topiary can be a valuable addition. It can add structure to wild and natural spaces or create a sense of formality in more structured gardens. Topiary can also be used as a focal point near entrances or as a backbone for landscaping. The possibilities are truly endless.

Gavin Rowe adds that topiary is a great way to fill empty spaces in your garden. If you have a large lawn area that feels empty, topiary can help fill the void and create a more visually appealing space.

So, consider utilizing topiary to break up your lawn and bring new life to your garden. With the right selection of evergreens and some careful shaping, you can create a stunning feature that will be the envy of your neighbors.

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15 Frame a view with topiary

Topiary can be a great way to give structure and definition to a garden, and one of the best ways to do this is by using it to frame a view. Whether it’s a beautiful vista, an interesting architectural feature, or a stunning flower bed, framing the view with topiary can create a focal point and draw the eye.

There are many different choices when it comes to using topiary to frame a view. These range from simple and elegant shapes, such as spheres, cones, or cubes, to more intricate and ornate designs. It’s important to consider the scale of the view and the surrounding landscape, as well as the style of the garden, when choosing the right topiary shape.

For example, if you have a large garden with hills and expansive views, you may want to consider using larger topiary specimens, such as clipped prunus or buxus, to create a grand and imposing frame. On the other hand, if you have a smaller space or a more minimalist garden design, you may opt for smaller geometric shapes, like spheres or cubes, to provide a subtle and elegant frame.

When choosing plants for framing a view with topiary, it’s important to consider their growth habits and maintenance needs. Some plants, like buxus, can be easily trimmed into a variety of shapes and are suitable for creating formal and structured frames. Others, like grasses and herbaceous perennials, may need more skill and patience to be shaped effectively, but can provide a softer and more natural frame.

Jeff, a topiary expert from Clipped Radio, advises to choose plants that can be clipped and controlled easily. “It’s important to choose plants that can be pruned and shaped to meet your specific needs,” says Jeff. “Plants like buxus and prunus are great choices when it comes to framing a view, as they can be easily trimmed to create sharp lines and defined shapes.”

When it comes to the design of the frames, there are many different trends to consider. Some gardeners prefer to use topiary in a symmetrical and formal way, with matching frames on either side of an entrance or walkway. Others may opt for a more organic and whimsical design, with different shapes and sizes placed at random points around a view.

One thing to keep in mind when using topiary to frame a view is that it’s important to find the right balance between the topiary and the view itself. The topiary should enhance the view and draw attention to it, without overpowering or detracting from it. It should also be in proportion to the size of the view, so that the topiary doesn’t appear too small or too large in relation to its surroundings.

Finally, it’s worth noting that topiary can provide year-round interest and structure to the garden. While many plants are at their best during the summer months, topiary can provide a focal point and definition during the winter as well. This is especially true for evergreen plants like buxus and prunus, which maintain their shape and form throughout the year.

So if you’re looking to frame a view in your garden, consider using topiary. Whether you choose simple geometric shapes or more intricate designs, topiary can provide structure, definition, and interest to your outdoor space. Just remember to choose the right plants, consider the scale and style of your garden, and find the right balance between the topiary and the view. With a bit of patience and skill, you can create a stunning feature that will be admired year-round.

What does topiary mean

Topiary is a form of garden art that involves shaping and sculpting plants, usually evergreen trees and shrubs, into specific geometric or figurative forms. It is a practice that originated in ancient Rome and has since been adopted by gardeners and horticulturists around the world.

Whether in grand homes, public gardens, or interior spaces, topiary adds a touch of elegance and architectural beauty. The art of topiary involves carefully pruning and trimming plants to create defined shapes and forms. From neatly clipped hedges to fanciful animal figures, topiary can create a sense of order and artistry in any garden.

One of the most common forms of topiary is the classic “lollipop” shape, achieved by trimming the branches of trees like Taxus or Ilex into a rounded ball on top of a slender, straight stem. This type of topiary is often used to mark entrances or pathways and creates a formal and elegant atmosphere.

Topiary can also take on more contemporary and whimsical forms. It can be used to create frames or geometric shapes in the garden, such as cones, cubes, or mounds. The possibilities are limited only by the gardener’s imagination and skill.

Topiary is a great way to add a sense of structure and control to your garden. By shaping and pruning plants, you can create focal points and define spaces. Topiary can be particularly useful in small gardens or urban spaces, where there is limited room for growth.

Gavin Bowles, editor of The Garden Design Journal, explains that topiary can be a magical addition to a garden. He advises using wire frames to guide the growth of plants and achieve the desired shape. The key is to start training the plants while they are young and flexible.

Topiary can be created with a variety of plants, but evergreens are the most commonly used due to their year-round foliage. They provide a good structure and can be shaped easily. Plants such as boxwood, yew, and holly are popular choices for topiary.

Topiary brings a sense of order and rhythm to the garden, especially during the winter months when other herbaceous plants may die back. It creates sharp lines and neat shapes that can be appreciated from both close up and afar. It adds a touch of sophistication and elegance to any garden style, whether it is a traditional English garden or a sleek contemporary design.

In conclusion, topiary is a timeless art form that has been around for centuries. It means shaping and sculpting plants into specific forms, whether it’s a classic lollipop shape or a contemporary geometric design. Topiary allows gardeners to have control over the growth and form of their plants and can add a sense of structure and elegance to any space.

What plants are suitable for topiary

When it comes to topiary, there are several plants that are particularly suitable for shaping into different forms and styles. Whether you’re looking for a lollipop tree, a cube-shaped shrub, or an intricate animal shape, there are options to suit every gardener’s taste and style.


Buxus (Boxwood) is one of the most popular choices for topiary because of its dense foliage and ability to handle frequent clipping. This evergreen shrub can be easily shaped into geometric forms like cubes, spheres, or simple hedgerows. Its small leaves and slow growth make it a perfect choice for creating intricate designs with definition.


Prunus (Cherry Laurel) is another popular option for topiary. With its glossy green leaves and fast growth, it can be easily clipped into shapes like cones, columns, or lollipop trees. Its versatility and ability to fill in spaces quickly make it a favorite among garden designers.


Taxus (Yew) is a slow-growing evergreen with dark green foliage. Its dense growth habit and ability to be shaped into formal shapes like spirals, pyramids, or globes make it a popular choice for creating stunning focal points in the garden.


Ilex (Holly) is known for its spiky leaves and bright red berries, which make it an excellent choice for creating winter interest in topiary designs. It can be clipped into shapes like cones, pyramids, or spheres, and its seasonal berries add a pop of color to the garden.

Other Options

Other Options

While the above plants are commonly used for topiary, you’re not limited to just those options. Many other plants, such as Thuja, Ligustrum, and Euonymus, can also be shaped and clipped to create stunning topiary designs. The key is to select plants with dense foliage, manageable growth, and the ability to tolerate frequent clipping.

Remember that maintaining topiary requires regular pruning and shaping. Mark your calendar for clipping sessions, and if you’re not confident in your own skills, consider hiring a professional gardener or seek advice from a topiary specialist. The team at Wyevale Garden Centres advises clipping in July while plants are actively growing, but different plants have different requirements, so it’s essential to do your research.

In conclusion, there are numerous plants suitable for topiary, each offering unique characteristics and styles. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of elegance to your garden entrance or create a formal feature in your landscape, topiary can provide the perfect solution. Just remember to select plants that suit your particular style and space, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different shapes and designs.

Topiary Plants at a Glance
Plant Suitable Shapes
Buxus Cubes, spheres, hedgerows
Prunus Cones, columns, lollipop trees
Taxus Spirals, pyramids, globes
Ilex Cones, pyramids, spheres
Thuja Cones, spirals, columns
Ligustrum Pyramids, balls, cones
Euonymus Cubes, spirals, arches

How do you make a topiary shape

Creating a topiary shape involves shaping and clipping evergreen plants into various forms. There are several methods and techniques that can be used to achieve different shapes and styles.

1. Using a framework

One common method is to use a wire or other framework to guide the growth of the plant. This framework can be in the shape of animals, geometric shapes, or anything that suits your desired topiary design.

2. Shaping hedgerow plants

Hedgerow plants like buxus (boxwood) are often used for topiary because they respond well to shaping and clipping. Consider using buxus to create hedgerow or knot-style topiaries.

3. Contemporary styles

3. Contemporary styles

For a more contemporary look, try creating topiaries in geometric shapes like cubes or spheres. These forms provide a strong focal point in the garden.

4. Lollipop shapes

Lollipop-shaped topiaries, where the plant is clipped into a ball or rounded shape on top of a bare stem, are also popular. This style works well in formal gardens or when creating a pathway or vista.

5. Paired topiaries

Pairing topiaries together can create a symmetrical or balanced look in the garden. You can choose to create identical shapes for a cohesive look or mix and match different shapes for a more whimsical feel.

6. Shady topiaries

If you have a shady spot in your garden, consider using shade-tolerant plants like ilex (holly) for topiaries. These evergreen plants will provide structure and interest in spaces where other plants may struggle to grow.

7. Clipping leafed topiaries

While most topiaries are made using evergreen plants, you can also experiment with leafed plants for a different look. Plants like grasses or certain varieties of ilex can be clipped into interesting shapes.

8. Introduce height with topiaries

Topiaries are a great way to introduce height in the garden, especially in smaller spaces. Tall topiaries can draw the eye upward and make a garden feel bigger. Consider using taller forms to create vertical interest.

9. Grow larger topiaries

If you have the space, consider growing larger topiaries. These can be in the form of trees or large shrubs that have been clipped into shape. Just make sure to give them enough space to grow without crowding other plants.

10. Clip regularly

To maintain the shape of your topiaries, it’s important to clip them regularly. The frequency of clipping will depend on the plant and the desired shape, but a general guideline is to clip once or twice a year. Clipping in early spring and summer (before the risk of frost) is often best.

11. Consider the style of your garden

When choosing a topiary shape, consider the overall style of your garden. Traditional gardens may benefit from classic forms like spirals or cones, while more modern gardens can experiment with abstract or unconventional shapes.

12. Better together

Grouping topiaries together can create a stronger visual impact. Consider clustering topiaries of different shapes and sizes to create a dynamic and interesting display.

13. Planting topiaries in containers

Topiaries in containers can be easily moved around to create different visual effects. They can also be used to frame entrances or focal points in the garden. Just make sure to choose the right size container for the topiary and provide proper drainage.

14. Provide support for larger topiaries

Larger topiaries may need support to maintain their shape. Consider using stakes or frames to provide support and prevent sagging or drooping.

15. Be creative

Don’t be limited by traditional topiary shapes. Let your creativity flow and experiment with different forms and materials. Topiaries can be used inside homes as well, where they can add a touch of nature and greenery to interior spaces.

In conclusion, making a topiary shape requires shaping and clipping evergreen plants using various methods and techniques. Whether you choose a traditional form or a contemporary design, topiaries can bring structure, beauty, and whimsy to any garden.

Why is topiary important in landscaping

Topiary is an essential element in landscaping as it adds a unique and artistic touch to garden design. These carefully clipped evergreens can transform a simple garden into a work of art, creating focal points and adding structure and interest.

One of the key benefits of topiary is that it provides the means to sculpt and shape plants, giving them a form that suits the overall design of the garden. Whether it’s creating geometric shapes like cones or pyramids, or more intricate designs like animals or abstract forms, topiary allows gardeners to showcase their creativity and make a statement.

Another important aspect of topiary in landscaping is its ability to create rhythm and flow in a garden. By strategically placing clipped evergreen plants throughout the landscape, a designer can guide the eye and create a sense of movement and harmony. This can be particularly useful when working with large gardens or open spaces, where the inclusion of topiary helps to break up the expanse and add interest.

Topiary also allows for the framing of views and the dividing of spaces. By selecting and clipping evergreens into specific shapes, such as arches or hedges, a designer can create natural frames that highlight key areas and views within the garden. Additionally, topiary can be used to define different garden rooms or zones, giving each area its own distinct character and purpose.

When it comes to garden design, topiary offers a range of practical benefits as well. Clipped evergreens are low-maintenance plants that require less water and care compared to other garden plants. They retain their form and shape year-round, adding visual interest and structure to the garden even during the winter months. In addition, topiary plants like taxus, boxwood, and holly are known for their high quality and durability, making them a smart choice for landscaping.

Topiary is not limited to large gardens or grand estates. It can be incorporated into any size garden or landscape, from small urban homes to sprawling country estates. In fact, topiary can be particularly beneficial in smaller spaces, where it can create the illusion of greater height or depth.

Overall, topiary is an essential tool for a landscape designer, providing endless possibilities for creativity, structure, and visual interest. Whether it’s adding a touch of elegance with neatly clipped standards or creating whimsical shapes and mounds, topiary adds a unique and artistic element to any garden. So, next time you’re planning a garden or looking to enhance your outdoor space, don’t forget to consider the power of topiary.

Can topiary grow in shade

Can topiary grow in shade

Topiary, the art of shaping and sculpting plants into various forms and shapes, is traditionally done using clipped evergreens. While most topiary specimens prefer a sunny location, there are some varieties that can tolerate shade and still thrive.

When considering topiary plants for a shaded area, it’s important to keep in mind that these plants may not grow as vigorously as those in full sun. However, with proper care and attention, topiary in shade can still provide an attractive view outside your window or in your garden.

Wire-framed topiary

One option for creating topiary in shade is to use wire-framed structures. These wire frames can be filled with various plants, including those that prefer shady conditions. This way, you can enjoy the art of topiary even in areas with limited sunlight.

Shade-tolerant topiary plants

Some topiary plants that can tolerate shade include Taxus (yew) and Buxus (boxwood). These plants have a slower growth rate compared to their sun-loving counterparts, but they still provide the opportunity to create beautiful and whimsical topiary shapes.

When planting topiary in shade, it’s important to regularly prune and control the growth of your plants. This will help maintain the desired shape and prevent them from becoming too large and unruly.

Pairing topiary with shade-loving plants

To create a more interesting and diverse landscaping scheme, you can pair your shade-loving topiary with other shade-tolerant plants. This could include grasses, suitable groundcovers, or other plants that thrive with limited sunlight. By combining different plants, you can provide a balanced and visually appealing garden design.

Seeking professional advice

If you’re not sure which topiary plants are suitable for shade or how to properly care for them, it’s always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable horticulturist or experienced garden designer. They can provide advice and guidance on the best topiary plants for your specific shade conditions and the care they require.

Remember, topiary in shade can still be a stunning feature in your garden. Whether you prefer a formal style with sharp, geometric shapes or a more contemporary look with whimsical and organic forms, there are options that will suit your preferences and the conditions of your garden.

So, don’t let shade limit your topiary dreams. With the right choice of plants and careful clipping and shaping, you can create beautiful topiary specimens that add structure and interest to any garden, regardless of the amount of sunlight available.

Plant Options for Topiary in Shade
Plant Light Requirements
Taxus Shade-tolerant
Buxus Shade-tolerant


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