Topiary Or Not Topiary, That Is The Question…

Monday, 08 May 2017

Topiary spans many centuries – it is prevalent in Renaissance gardens as well as formal gardens belonging to the grandest of country estates. Yet it is just as at home in simple, contemporary, urban gardens. Some people see topiary as a twee addition to a garden, akin to the garden gnome when clipped into animal shapes while others see it as a classic which suits a multitude of garden designs. So what do you think? Should topiary be a staple of garden design or left in the garden centre with the meerkats and wishing wells? Here’s what we think of topiary with some do’s and don’ts…

Levens Hall Gardens

Levens Hall Gardens


Some of our favourite gardens rely on topiary to create their look. Drummond Castle Gardens near Crieff is a very formal garden with lots of symmetry and a heavy reliance on topiary. Levens Halls Gardens in the Lake District has the world’s largest topiary collection and is a sight to be seen. We are big fans as it, when used well, can add real drama, structure, height and texture to a garden.


…choose your topiary carefully. They can be quite expensive so pick a variety and style to suit your needs.

…think about how often you are happy to prune your topiary. A ligustrum will be cheaper but will need trimming a lot more often than taxus baccata.

…think about the space you have and what shape will work best – cloud topiary is beautiful but needs more space to be shown off. A cone or spiral will take up less space.

…use topiary to frame entrances and doorways. They will make a great statement.

…use it to make a statement in your borders. They can add the wow factor.

Formal topiary

Cypress adds height to a border

…invest in some topiary shears to keep your shrub looking its best.

…include topiary in your garden if you are looking for a contemporary look. Lines of box balls is an easy to create a modern look.


…be tempted to indulge in a topiary animal unless you are creating a children’s garden or you can do it en masse a la Lotusland

…neglect your topiary. It will need watered, fed and clipped to keep looking good.

…be tempted by the cheap, fake topiary balls sold in budget stores. They are cheap for a reason.

Topiary mini

Topiary mini in the Cotswolds

So, in our opinion, topiary is a great way to create a strong statement in a garden and add structure. They are particularly effective in contemporary gardens and also work well in containers. They are a definite must for us at Vialii. Though perhaps not trained into the shape of a mini!

Thanks for reading.

All at Vialii

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