(Image via David Sobek’s Homepage… but I wish I knew who had made this fabulous lawn tableau)
I remember the first time I saw a topiary. It was a Disneyland when I was knee-high to a very short grasshopper. I was intrigued. I wanted to know how someone shaped trees and bushes into images from fairy tales. I haven’t been to Disneyland in many and many a yonk, and it wouldn’t surprise me greatly if I never went back at this point. I’m not much of a Disney kind of gal. But the topiaries… I love a good topiary. They make me wish I was better with plants.
I would absolutely make the pilgrimage to visit Liverpool’s South Parkway rail station to see this topiary of the Fab Four… and so would my Beatle’s loving husband!
Of course topiary, like painting, doesn’t have to be representational. The Japanese school of karikomi runs to more abstract forms.
But my favorite topiary story ever is that of Pearl Friyar. When Mr. Friyar bought his house in Bishopville, South Carolina, many of the neighbors complained that an African American wouldn’t take care of his garden. So Friyar decided to take up that challenge. He decided to make the best, most elaborate garden in the town… and he did. He’d never done topiary before.
Here’s what he has wrought:
(Image via Studio G)
And that’s just a tiny fraction of his amazing work.
Plants are gloriously malleable things. I think it’s great when someone coaxes one into an unexpected shape and makes us see it in a whole new light.