This November topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth undertook the modernising of her boxwood hedges. They are 38 years old and it was time to make a change…
The problem with old topiaries is how large they get, leading to a claustrophobic feel in the garden. Five years ago the sides had been cut back hard to allow more air to circulate and more space to walk between them. This narrowing of boxwood hedges is something I particularly love, because you don’t just get more space in the garden but it makes the hedges tactile – their thinness inviting you to give them a ‘wibble’ as you walk past.
But the job taken up a couple of weeks ago to modernise the hedges was not about the facades, but removing the figurative and formal topiaries on the top of the hedges. These had been grown up as single stems and made into birds, dogs, tiers, mushrooms, balls and blobs… but Charlotte felt she had too many of them. They cluttered up the hedge, and of course added far more maintenance as each had to be clipped once a year.
So it was my job to get rid of them, to saw through the thick stems somewhere below the top of the hedge line (not the first time I have been brutal with a pruning saw in Charlotte’s wonderful topiary garden… take a look below).
How did Charlotte describe the change? What did she make of 38 minutes of mayhem with a pruning saw, after 38 years of growing and tending these topiaries?
“You were just flying AROUND THE GARDEN with box balls also FLYING everywhere too – I will always laugh at you doing the ‘Box Ball’ can-can!!!You got SO much done and I feel so relieved for the box hedges now that they can sing from the same sheet much more!”
I love this idea – the hedges are singing in harmony – a design idea worth thinking about as you look at the hedges in your own garden.
Charlotte’s attitude is also to be praised. She has not allowed her garden to stand still, or her own ideas on topiary to stagnate, but she has looked at what the garden needs, how it fits in with her life, and continued to be bold in how she makes her work. It not only brings her fresh energy, but allows the garden to stay relevant and modern.
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