Topiary Walk is the first thing you pass as you enter the Hever Castle grounds through Top Gate entrance. Topiary is the name for the art of clipping hedges into odd and ornamental shapes which dates back to Roman times.
Here at Hever Castle Gardens most of our topiary is clipped out of box and yew into a variety of abstract and animal shapes, and are all well over 100 years old. There are dovecotes, a crown, corkscrew shapes, snails, butterflies, a wild boar and even a reindeer.
We trim the topiary twice a year using mostly traditional hand shears. In April/May they have just a quick short back and sides, taking out any whispy growth and then in August, the main cut of the season, bringing back the definition and sharp lines with immense precision. One topiary can take a member of my team up to six hours to complete.
All but two, the wild boar and reindeer, are trimmed in freestyle. Both the wild boar and reindeer have frames to help retain their delicate shape. Many of the topiary shapes are 1920s inspired shapes, but gardener Janice, who completed an Art degree has also been using her creative flair to create new Topiary animals. The following photo will become a cat, and will take about 5 years to grow and trim into shape. Janice has also got plans to shape a Tortoise and an Octopus.
Also, look out for the other Topiary feature: the Chess Set in the Chess Garden.