The definition of the word topiary, as described by Wikipedia, encompasses a good deal more than the topiary I typically think of when someone says the word. I picture various shapes of spheres, wreathes and cones our local nursery grows when the word is mentioned. They are often made from English ivy or other readily available green plants, including rosemary. When our Trader Joe’s sells rosemary topiary I usually buy one because they are fragrant and pretty and last for months. When a topiary grows too large for the kitchen window, I place it somewhere outdoors.
Topiary is the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, perhaps geometric or fanciful; the term also refers to plants which have been shaped in this way. As an art form it is a type of living sculpture.
But the “practice of training live perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and sub-shrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes…” encompasses one of my favorite landscape tools. The boxwood hedge.
Carla’s secret garden (above) before her redo—look away, Carla.
Yes, there are fanciful shapes that can bring whimsy and beauty into the garden, but the use of the boxwood when it’s trimmed to provide a bit of structure where structure is needed, is something I use in my own garden and clearly the master gardeners of the globe have historically used this to great effect.
Do you have any topiary growing in your yard or a plant in your home?