Monday, March 7, 2011

Topiary...

Above: One of eight paintings of topiary at Hartwell House gardens. Sir Thomas Lee (1687-1749) of Hartwell commissioned the paintings from Balthasar Nebot, a little-known Spanish painter based in Covent Garden. They are a unique record of the country estate and garden at this time.


Topiary (from the latin topiarus (landscape gardener) is the horticultural art of creating living sculpture out of plants. The forms can range from the simple yet stylish geometric forms...



to the more fanciful animals and other subjects.






Once only trained hands crafted these masterpieces...


However, wire framing is often used nowadays to aid correct form and support both the plant and the budding topiarist.






Levens Hall


Levens Hall is a manor house in Cumbria. The first house on the site was a Pele tower built by the Redman family in around 1350, but most of the present building dates from the Elizabethan era, when the Bellingham family extended the house. They were responsible for the fine panelling and plasterwork in the main rooms. Further additions were made in the late 17th and early 19th centuries.



Levens is now owned by the Bagot family and is open to the public. It has a celebrated topiary garden, and also a deer park inhabited by fallow deer and goats.


The gardens are grade I listed and date from 1694. Through a combination of circumstance and love, the gardens have survived in their original design. The topiary is some of the oldest in the world and justifiably famous. The historic topiary garden also incorporates a small orchard of apple trees and medlars, a nuttery and herb garden, a bowling green, a rose garden, herbaceous borders and seasonal bedding.

Above: The Levens gardeners at work in 1950.

Below: Some of the Topiary designs found at Levens


More fanciful Topiary...


Below: Ladew Garden



Seeing the more outlandish topiary that some gardeners dream up (like the racing car above) puts me in mind of a sketch from the BBC comedy Little Britain, whose opening scenes showcase various lewd topiary designs...

video


5 comments:

  1. I love these wonderful examples of topiary! (Also, I am a fan of "Little Britain").

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  2. great photographs and images- I loved reading a bit about Levens Hall and will explore more. The first image is beautiful. can you tell me anything more about it? thanks, pgt

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  3. Incredible all the work that must go into these topiaries. Great post!

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  4. Dear Little Augury,

    The painting is of Hartwell House gardens. Sir Thomas Lee (1687-1749) of Hartwell commissioned 8 paintings from Balthasar Nebot, a little-known Spanish painter based in Covent Garden. They are a unique record of the country estate and garden at this time.

    Regards,
    David.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ladew is about 20 miles from me and it's SPECTACULAR! Especially for the USA! I've blogged about it a couple of times, you can search my blog for it.

    And Little Britian? OMG When I first saw it when I moved to the UK, I could scarcely believe it! Whew!!!

    ReplyDelete

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