Posts Tagged ‘Topiary’

Topiary folly

OK so it is a flight of fantasy rather than a folly but what a flight!

Inspired by a visit to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, Brecon resident Gavin Hogg has sculpted the overgrown hedge around his garden into a herd of topiary elephants.

Mr Hogg spent two days crafting the seven adults and three babies with a trimmer, shears – and a pair of scissors for the fiddly bits.

The result is a striking 100ft-long trail of green elephants that stretches around the corner of his family home outside Brecon in Mid Wales

Mr Hogg said: ‘It was just a normal, fairly boring box hedge when I started. I found a picture of a group of elephants and set about shaping it. Time seemed to disappear while I was working on it.

‘I was able to create the appearance of folds in the skin and shadow lines for shoulder blades and hips.

‘I also clipped an eye in some of the adult elephants to give it greater authenticity. It was a lot of work and the ears and trunks were a bit tricky but I am pleased with the end result.’

Father-of-two Mr Hogg and his wife Vina, who visited the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya, farm organic vegetables at their 17th century home.

He added: ‘It’s great to see our own herd of elephants every time we look out of the window, even if they are green. They will need a haircut twice a year to smarten them up. But they will be a permanent feature.’

The topiary elephants are cut out of a hedge of common box (Buxus sempervirens) which was planted about 200 years ago.

(This story first appeared in the Daily Mail on 2 July 2009)

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Tatto-ed giant swims beside the Thames

A giant tattoo-ed athlete, measuring 46-feet long and 10-feet high, is swimming through the grassy-verge next to the Thames at Tower Bridge this week. Somewhat surprisingly, the massive sculpture is the work of David Beckham and Kate Moss’s tattooist Louis Molloy.


Molloy, who was responsible for the ‘guardian angel’ tattoo on Beckham’s back, is starring in a new TV show that aims to highlight how tattoos are no longer confined to criminal and sailor circles but are now very much a mainstream art format.

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Arthur Shapiro’s botantical labyrinth in his LA garden

 After LA antiques dealer Richard Shapiro created a Palladian folly in his Holmby Hills garden in Los Angeles, (see previous blog post “Palladio in Hollywood”), he decided to enhance its setting with a maze.

Thumbing through a magazine, shortly after completing the Palladian pavilion, he came across a photograph of the Chateau Marqueyssac in the Dordogne region of France, that featured an elaborate garden labyrinth made from topiary boxwood.

In a garden already filled with palms, Italian cypress and bamboo and fragrant with lavender, chosen for the color of the foliage rather than the sweetness of the flower, Shapiro embarked upon a botanical folly.

“I spent five days deciding where to plant 480 mature boxwoods and spent several hours a day for the next month trimming them,” he says. “This is not a complaint; I’m obsessed with doing it.”

The result was well worth it. Adjacent to a stone patio decked with gray spray-painted wicker chairs from Pier 1 Imports, Shapiro’s boxwood maze is a series of rounded undulating forms traversed by curlicue gravel walkways — an Alice in Wonderland garden as photographed by Tim Burton.

Shapiro considers the $25,000 he spent “a great bargain. It’s such a singular thing,” he says. “It’s of the same ilk as the other folly.”

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Topiary and carpet bedding in St James’s park to mark the Tour de France in London 2007



The Tour de France comes to London


OK so this isn’t a folly but it a very endearing garden structure and I couldn’t resist including it.

In early July 2007 the Tour de France started in London. The first day was the Prologue, which took in a tour round the Royal Parks in London before the tour proper set off through Kent to the English Channel on the following day. The weather held and over a million people are estimated to have turned out to watch the race. We don’t get to see much topiary or carpet bedding in public parks these days – too expensive and labour intensive – so this example of “gardening” art combing the two techniques was a welcome addition to the London scene. 

These delightful topiary cyclists were commissioned by Mark Wasilewski, Park Manager of St James Park, to commemorate the occasion. They were actually grown in Italy and shipped over to the UK. There was another similar group commissioned by the LB Lambeth near Waterloo.

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