Whimsical Topiary

By: Julie Day

I have a favorite running route in my hometown, that takes me through lovely residential neighborhoods and past a couple of nice parks, and gets me back home before I collapse. There are many reasons why it’s my favorite – nice long hills that aren’t too steep, well-tended sidewalks, water fountains at strategic milestones – but I have to say that nothing beats the greeting I get from these guys:

Like happy cheerleaders, these creations usually herald the season with holiday wreaths, Easter egg necklaces, or colorful bows around their necks. Over time, they have been carefully trimmed and shaped through the art of topiary, an ancient form of sculpture using living plants. And in all the years I’ve been running past them, I’ve never seen a single leaf out of place.

Topiary is an art that takes patience and precision, but like many other garden practices, you get to decide how complicated you want it to be. A trimmed square hedge is a simple form of topiary, as are tree-form hibiscus, spiral-shaped arborvitae, and those funny ivy-covered monkeys you see in roadside markets.

I like to see people having fun in their garden – these green guardians never fail to bring a smile to my face, and they are a glimpse into the playful personality of the gardener. I mean, how can you be in a bad mood after a visit to a yard like this?

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