Top topiary

A tree doesn't have to look like a tree. With some imagination and a good pair of shears, some of our gardeners have created amazing works of art that really are a cut above the rest.

View across the Parterre garden at Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Visitors to Blickling are treated to a variety of different shapes when it come to the trees. From the giant yew hedges on the approach to the house, to the 20 acorn shaped yews and the 4 'grand pianos' that adorn the gardens.

The Dahlia Walk in June at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire

Biddulph Grange Gardens, Staffordshire

Yew topiary lends itself to Victorian high drama at Biddulph. A framework of hedging cleverly conceals the garden's compartments of themed gardens from around the world. The illusion is created of moving from country to country (countries include 'Egypt', 'China' and 'Scotland') in a few steps.

Topiary at Chastleton House, Oxfordshire

Chastleton House, Oxfordshire

Time has gently worn away at the edges of Chastleton's Topiary Garden, leaving softened outlines and curving shapes. The ring of yew once held a menagerie of elaborately cut topiary animals, a ship in full sail and a teapot. The topiary at Chastleton now blends beautifully into the informal garden.

Carefully shaped yew hedging in winter at Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Chirk Castle, Wales

This medieval Welsh castle sits among 18th-century parkland and gardens where substantial topiaries echo the bulk of the castle's walls. The garden is known for its so-called Welsh, or Cromwellian, hats.

Topiary shaped like a bird and box hedges at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Small hedges of box neatly divide planting areas. Dotted throughout is a series of topiary shapes clipped from yew. Peacocks perch delicately on wide columns, neighboured by tall bottle-shapes and a peculiar specimen that looks a bit like a flying saucer.

The White Garden at Hidcote Manor, Gloucestershire

Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire

Much of Hidcote's topiary is birds, but you'll also find neatly squared off lollipops of hornbeam, holly hedges with pompoms and tapestry hedging of holly and purple beech in the Lilac Circle, at its best in spring when the colour is echoed by the flowering trees.

The Paved Garden at Knightshayes Court, Devon

Knightshayes Court, Devon

Lolloping topiary hounds pursue a sprightly looking fox across the top of a tightly clipped yew hedge at Knightshayes Court. This topiary scene was a whimsical addition, cut in the 1930s, to a hedge planted as part of the garden's original high Victorian design.

The topiary Harp in the Shamrock Garden at Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland

Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland

One Irish symbol holds another at its heart in the Shamrock Garden at Mount Stewart. A hedge of Irish yew in the shape of a shamrock encloses a topiary Irish harp. Originally 30 topiary figures crowned the top of the shamrock hedge. Today there are eight, reinstated in the 1990s in Irish yew. Up to 4ft in height, they are a varied troupe of two royal crowns, a sailing boat, stags, the goddess Diana, the devil and two creatures from Celtic mythology.