Gardening: Sculpting topiary is shear pleasure

Topiary, the art of trimming trees and shrubs into shapely sculptures, is spreading from stately homes to streets across Scotland.

Although topiary has been around for centuries, the structures are surprisingly modern and will add structure and interest to your garden. But the beauty is you don’t need a private gardener or huge landscape to enjoy topiary – it’s a lot easier than people would think.

All you need to do is buy a pair of shears to keep the topiary bush neatly trimmed all-year round, and you have a perfect doorstep plant. A definite prerequisite however is patience and a steady hand.

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Luke Chamberlain, horticultural manager at Dobbies Garden World Edinburgh, offers his advice about how to create the prefect topiary in your garden.

He says: “A clipped box ball is simple to upkeep and can be planted into modern- looking containers.

“To really create impact, repeat identical shapes at regular intervals for a uniform, designer look.

“A hedge is a simple form of topiary used to create boundaries or walls – use low hedges to edge borders and taller shapes to frame paths and doors.”

Here’s some tips for growing success:

• Trim topiary in the spring and autumn to ensure it looks good year-round

• Feed and water potted topiary regularly to keep it green and healthy

• Take topiary from box plants as it’s easy to root and you’ll quickly boost your stock if you’re trying to create a hedge.

• Wire frames allow first-time topiarists to follow simple designs, such as squirrels, dogs, or rabbits!

Here are plants to use for topiary:

• Conifer: Perfect for creating topiary fast as grows quickly. Clip little and often

• Holly: Just the thing for lollipops, pyramids, hedges and balls.

• Beech: Perfect for formal hedges and simple shapes

• Yew: The stuff of grand gardens – grows tall and can be shaped into enormous creations.

• Box: Classic topiary plant used for spirals, pyramids, and no end of animals and novelty shapes.

• Dobbies Garden World, Edinburgh is offering free advice through its Garden 
Grow-How talks, taking place every Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 2pm.