topiary work

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topiary work

(tō`pēĕr'ē), pruning and training of shrubs and trees into ornamental shapes, used in landscape gardening. Elaborate topiary work in which trees and shrubs are clipped to resemble statuary (e.g., birds, nymphs, urns) or are planted to form mazes or intricate geometrical patterns was once popular but now can be seen only in old-fashioned or specialized private gardens or in formal parks and botanical displays. Arborvitae, box, privet, and yew are among the plants most used for topiary gardening. See espalierespalier
, trellis or lattice used in horticulture for training a tree or vine flat against a wall, either for ornament or to fit it into a small space, allowing it to get a maximum of air and sun and bringing the fruit within easy reach for gathering.
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Topiary work

The clipping or trimming of plants, trees, and shrubs, usually evergreens, into ornamental and fantastic shapes.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Topiary Work


the cultivation of artificially shaped fruit trees on feebly growing rootstocks for purposes of high yield and decorativeness. Topiary work is sometimes called trellis gardening, since the trees are often fastened to supports whose bearing elements are in a single plane.

Topiary work originated in 16th-century Europe. It reached its greatest development in the second half of the 19th century in France and Germany. In Russia the first topiary gardens were established in the late 1900’s, but they had no commercial significance. During that period topiary work was distinguished for the diversity and complexity of shapes (irregular palmettes, pyramids, intricately shaped vases and cups). In Italy in the 1930’s tree shapes that were simpler in structure and execution were created—for example, cordons and simple palmettes—which were suitable for commercial gardens. The palmette form rapidly gained popularity among fruit growers in Bulgaria, Rumania, Yugoslavia, France, and a number of other countries. In the USSR commercial gardens using the palmette form were established in the 1950’s and 1960’s in Moldavia, the Crimea, and other southern regions. Currently the gardens are operating successfully. Most of the complex artificial tree shapes characteristic of classical topiary work, that is, forms having a geometrically regular arrangement of branches, are used only in ornamental horticulture.

The fruit trees most often used in topiary work are apple and pear; plants with drupaceous fruits are only rarely used. The most suitable varieties of apple and pear are those characterized by moderate growth and fruit yield on new branch tips. An annual new growth of 1–3 cm with one well-developed apical bud is desirable. Topiary work is more laborious than growing trees with natural crowns. It involves annual pruning and binding of shoots and the use of such special techniques as bending, twisting, and girdling of branches. The practice requires extensive knowledge and experience.


Shaitan, I. M. Formovo-dekorativnyi plodovyi sad. Kiev, 1968.
Kudriavtsev, R. P. Novye vysokoproduktivnye formy krony plodovykh derev’ev. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

topiary work

The clipping or trimming of plants, trees, and shrubs, usually evergreens, into ornamental and fantastic shapes.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The art of topiary work becomes pure poetry on his pages.
Large plants, particularly if some training and topiary work has been carried out, are an arm and a leg job.
Topiary works well in a winter garden and can bring a feel of maturity to even a relatively new garden.