Trendy Topiary: Some Facts on This Fancy Plant Art that Adorns Homes
If you’ve ever seen homes in or around Houston, you’ve likely noticed that some of those with large-enough yards feature shrubs shaped as animals, things, or any other recognizable objects and shapes. Wonder what that sublime plant art is called? Wonder no more. That living art is called topiary.
Topiary basically is the art of ornamental gardening, wherein practitioners trim, train, and prune plants into almost any shape and size. Topiary installations vary greatly in size; from pieces as big as trees shaped like ice cream cones to those small enough to fit in handheld cups. The art of topiary itself isn’t exactly a new concept: in fact, it can be traced as far back as 2,000 years ago to ancient Rome.
Further evidence that topiary dates as far back as ancient Rome lies in its name. Topiary was derived from the Latin word topiarus (Latin and its offshoots being one of the official languages of Rome along with Greek) which means “landscape gardener”. Though no one can pinpoint the first ever topiary installation with certainty, early pictures of topiaries scribbled inside ancient Roman tombs stand as evidence. Archaeologists can also argue that topiary was pretty widespread back in the day and reached as far as China and Japan (the latter borrowing ideas from the former).
Different types of plants are used for topiaries, though some specific types prove to fare far better than others. Four of such plant types exist: shrubs, hedges, herbs, and vines. For shrubs, the most popular types include boxwood, holly, laurel, and privet. Excellent-looking pyramidal, cylindrical, and obelisk-like designs are best achieved with hedges; herbs are perfect for smaller pieces or as mini gift items (and they have the fragrance to boot); and vines offer perhaps the most possibilities for achieving various forms.
So it appears that topiary is quite all-fancy, with larger installations seemingly better to fit stately homes—not really. Daily Mail contributor Monty Don thought so, and apparently, he was mistaken. He’s seen very high-end homes with massive topiaries (like that of world-renowned Belgian landscape gardener Jacques Wirtz) and simpler abodes with smaller-sized installations, and can’t even notice any difference in aesthetics.
Overall, topiaries are excellent additions to homes with gardens or yard space, no matter how grand or simple they may seem to those who pass by—that is, of course, as long as the topiaries were selected, clipped, and shaped the right way. For those who are looking to adorn their outdoor living space with topiaries, but are not really keen on picking up pruning shears, don’t fret. A local plant and garden center in Houston such as River Oaks Plant House has you covered with their topiary and garden services.
What Is Topiary? WiseGeek.com
The History of Topiaries, GardenGuides.com