Monday, 1 October 2012

Topiary at Belvoir

Several years ago the Duchess planted 14 Yew shrubs either side of a path that leads from the castle to the rose garden.   Today they had their first re-style. 

The First Cut

It takes many years to create good topiary shapes; some of these shapes evolve over a period of time and some are planned within a garden design.  Ideally your shapes should suit their home and environment, so we could have nothing frivolous here.   We decided on the simple shape of a cylinder with a line through the center and a bobble on the top.  The cylinder shape replicates the round turrets of the castle creating continuity between garden and castle.

After the first cut the shapes start to evolve.

As these are evolving structures the work has to be done by eye, this is a trickier task and a lot of time and patience is needed.  More complicated shapes are often grown around metal structures to help keep their shape when clipping.

Anyway I think we can safely say Simon has mastered the beginning of the topiary restyle.  In 3 – 4 years all the middles of the shapes will have filled out and the lines will be sharp and clean.  Yew is one of the most versatile shrubs to clip, even if you trim it back to the wood it will still grow back.  The other gem for topiary is box.


If you are thinking about including some topiary in your garden, always remember the logistics of cutting.  If you create shapes that don't need a ladder or scaffolding it will be so much easier to look after them.

In days of old this job would have all have been done by hand shears and with a large team of gardeners.  Nowadays we use machinery that gives a clean cut and has a variety of cutters to suit different jobs.  Both Simon and I have always found Stihl to be the best, as they are so reliable.  Even so I will probably be guilty of wandering up and down now and again with a pair of hand shears.

The first cut at Belvoir Castle

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