The Book of Topiary
Publication date: August 2012
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
You save: $0.96 (14%)
Topiary, the art of trimming hedges, shrubs, and trees into ornamental shapes, is perhaps the most distinct and fascinating branch of landscape horticulture.Its best known example, the palace gardens of Versailles, stands as a splendid monument to perfection, but today many a finely clipped privet and sheared yew are to be found in the humbler gardens of rural England. This book, first published in 1904, is a classic in the subject, written by two foremost experts of the day: Charles H. Curtis, a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and formerly at Kew Gardens near London, and W. Gibson, head gardener of one of the finest topiary gardens in Britain at Levens Hall. Gibson here draws on a wealth of practical experience to provide sound advice to aspiring topiarists. His practical sections include The Formation of a Topiary Garden, Planting, and TheTraining of Young Trees. Curtis traces the long history of topiary from itsearly origins in ancient Greece. As Homer's description (rendered by Pope) has it: Here interwoven branches form a wall, And from the living fence green turrets rise; There ships of myrtle sail in seas of box; A green encampment yonder meets the eye. The 1500s saw the dawn of the "golden age" of topiary. It extravagances were manifold and characterized the gardens walked by Elizabeth I,Shakespeare, and Raleigh. The extraordinary hedge labyrinth in the grounds of Hampton Court survives today for the pleasure and delight of countless visitors.Any fashion taken to excess leads to an inevitable reaction; and so it was that topiary became the butt of the eighteenth critics. Addison and Pope employed their razor wit in its ridicule. The humor of Pope's satirical description is hard to escape: "St. George in box; his arm scarce long enough, will be in condition to stick the dragon by next April. . . . A quickset hog, shot up into a porcupine, by its being forgot a week in rainy weather." This century has seen a welcome revival of the art. Wealthy patrons of horticulture have laid outtopiary gardens, designed to be in harmony with their formal surroundings and with the natural features of the grounds. There are also many private enthusiasts who, inspired by the feats of the masters, skillfully train their garden hedges into spirals, serpentine columns, and even spires topped by peacocks. Here then is an intriguing read on a too little known subject. The numerous illustrations included add to the interest, and practical instructionsare offered for those tempted to take up the scissors.