If you’re interested in learning more about topiary and how to use it in your garden, A Practical Guide to Topiary by Jenny Hendy is a must for your reference library. The book not only features beautiful color photographs of topiary from all over the world, but also explains the history of topiary, how to create your own topiary and how to maintain them.
The author starts by defining topiary styles and giving suggestions of which styles might be best suited to your style of home or garden. Whether you like a French, Japanese, or English style, or own a manor house, contemporary home, or cottage – you can find some form of topiary appropriate for your garden.
The book also shows how topiary can be used to create different effects in the garden – frame the entrance to your driveway or front door, create a privacy hedge, or add whimsical touches such as bird and squirrel shapes. Knot gardens and parterres are covered too.
The strength of this book is the stunning color photographs which showcase the wide variety of ways in which topiary is used around the world. The book features over 300 color photographs which are enough to make any gardener salivate with envy at the possibilities for creating a stunning garden.
My only complaint about the photos is that most of the captions lack a citation of where the photo was taken. If you’re captivated by a particular garden, you don’t know where to find it.
The index gives a list of common plants used for topiary and which ones will work for different situations. It also has a glossary and a list of gardens you can visit that have great topiary collections.
Levens Hall, for example, is the perfect place to visit if you are interested in seeing a large variety of topiary styles. The garden was started in 1695 and displays a huge number of topiary as well as other classic English garden features such as a rose garden, herbaceous borders and pleached lime trees. Levens Hall is located in the Lake District in northwest England.
If you’re looking for a pruning manual on creating or maintaining topiary, this is not really the book for you. Although there are some instructions given on how to create some types of topiary such as a bird, cloud topiary, training to a standard, spirals and hedges, the instructions are brief and you’d have to be familiar with pruning to really follow them. These instructions are accompanied by small photographs that illustrate the text, which does help a little bit.
The strength of this book is in its inspirational photos and explanation of the history and various styles of topiary that are possible. For that alone, I feel it’s a fine addition to your gardening bookshelf, and the photos make it a fine coffee table book.
(NOTE: I bought my own copy of this book and was not compensated in any way for writing this book review.)
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