How to Grow Whimsy and Wonder: A Topiary Guide



For the past few days, my youngest child has been repeatedly asking me the same question:

Mom, when can we plant our topiary garden?

I can’t quite remember how the idea originated. Was it because her older brother discovered a love for trimming boxwood, and I set him loose with my best pair of hedge clippers? Was the idea planted in her through repeated visits to the old topiary garden at Longwood? Or maybe it was a book we read?

Wherever the idea came from, I am now–apparently–committed. I can tell by the rising pitch of her voice each time she asks this question that I cannot turn this ship around. We will be cultivating a topiary garden. My only question now is whether tall green creatures will soon be seen all over our yard, or can I get away with one small boxwood ball in a pot?

Time will tell. Meanwhile, I am grateful for these inspiring sources:

Potted herb topiaries are surprisingly easy to make. Here’s a video tutorial. Here’s a written tutorial. Geraniums (properly called pelargoniums) and herbs like lavender and rosemary are good candidates for a topiary standard.

And here’s another general tutorial for making your own topiary.

The Night Gardener by brothers Terry and Eric Fan is a beautiful, whimsical picture book. All of my kids appreciate this one. It might even convince you that topiary can change the world.

I loved British gardening television show Great British Garden Revival. Episode 2 of Season 2 featured topiary and includes an inspiring tutorial.

My favorite high quality tree seller, Bower&Branch, also sells topiary.

Some of the topiary in The Topiary Garden at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania were planted in 1936. This special garden is well worth a visit. My own kids love to play hide and seek here.

Explore all our Black Barn Garden Library posts here.



Posted on

June 15, 2020

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