There’s pruning to keep plants shapely and manageable, and then there’s topiary, a whole other level of pruning.
Topiary, a word derived from the Latin word topiarius for landscape gardener, is the art of creating beautifully shaped shrubs through training and pruning. The shapes are often clearly defined and can be anything from simple geometric shapes to elaborate life size animals and creatures. In other words, topiary is the art of creating living sculptures.
Here are some examples of topiary:
The plants used in topiary are usually evergreen, have small leaves or needle, produce dense foliage and have compact or columnar growth habits, such as boxwood, juniper, yew and myrtle. Other plants that also work well include: rosemary, lavender, and holly.
Trees and shrubs can be brought already-trained from a local garden center or nursery. This is also the easiest way to create a topiary. Topiary frames or wire cages can also be used to train vines into desired shapes and forms. Wear gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges.
Topiary has been practiced for over 2000 years. It was especially popular in gardens of the wealthy during the early Roman times all the way to the 18th century. Today, topiary can be found in outdoor public gardens and some home gardens.