According to historians, the practice of topiary has been around for centuries, over 2000 years to be exact.
Cnaeus Matius Calvinus who was around at the time of Julius Caesar, reportedly introduced these clipped forms to the Roman Gardens. Romans loved extending their homes by way of a terrace or outdoor living rooms pretty much as we all love to do today.
I marvel at the compliance of the humble Buxus, how it tolerates neglect, abuse, lack of rain, too much sun, too little sun etc. The one thing it will not tolerate, however, is having it’s roots standing in water. We planted Buxus hedges around the courtyard on the south side of our house. The veranda was not equipped to handle the flooding effect of sudden downpours, and as a result and because of the clay present in our soil, the Buxus would sometimes stand in pools of water for days. We have now installed adequate drainage and have hopefully stalled the loss of plants. Buxus are so stoic that they rarely show signs of dying and when one finally notices that they are failing, they are usually beyond help.
A few years ago, we made a small parterre garden at our house in France. As this little house remains locked up for long periods, I decided that trusty Buxus would be the answer. The garden has no symmetry of any description. I could only gain perspective by standing on the little balcony upstairs and while drawing the plan. We then ordered a variety of hedging and topiaries and luckily had just enough to complete the plan. Photos below show the garden as it is today.
We have lots of Buxus in our garden in Bowral, too much some would say! Buxus in small pots clipped into various shapes, large Buxus cones which are vertically pleasing and large Buxus orbs sitting on corners between continuous rows of Buxus hedging. These shapes and ribbons of green, give form and add a tracery to an otherwise lifeless garden during the Winter, although I must admit that they do eventually turn a sort of bronze colour during the cold months.
A week ago, I began re-potting the smaller pots as they were looking a bit sad. I tapped each plant out of the pot, cut back the roots and shook out the old soil. Then back they went into the fresh potting mix, to which I added fertiliser and hopefully they will soon all look fresh and healthy! The rain we have had in the past two days will definitely help them along!
I was in Topiary Heaven during our recent trip to the UK and France where we visited many gardens! More photos below.
This was the cemetery in the village of Goult in Provence. We rented a villa nearby, but it was only on our last day, that Mr R-I took this photo for me as he had discovered these marvelous shapes when doing the daily croissant/newspaper run.
This is the beautiful garden of the Villa we rented where, as you can see, Buxus plays a major part!
Below are more wonderful topiaries we saw in various gardens in the UK
Yew topiaries at Rodmarton –
Buxus topiaries at Rodmarton
A garden in the Cotswolds, the name of which escapes me. Love the Hen and chicks!
A great combination of Yew and Buxus at Lower Slaughter Manor House
Abbey Manor House Garden in Malmesbury
Abbey Manor House Garden
Abbey Manor House Garden
Hidcote – These are not strictly topiaries but the Stilt garden was wonderful!
I think it’s pretty obvious that I am keenly awaiting Summer! Have a very happy week everyone! ps … This morning stumbled across a divine post by Charlotte Moss where she talks about Topiary and shows some perfect examples of her work in this art form.