viernes, 1 de febrero de 2013

The Topiary Art

The topiary art is a gardening practice that consist on giving artistic forms to the plants by cutting with pruning scissors. We have nearly infinites options to give particular forms to plants.
 The artistic pruning is as old as our civilization and goes back in time to the Romans’ time. The name comes from the Latin word topiaries  “gardener-ornamental landscape” creator of topia or “places”; a Greek word that the Romans applied too to interior sceneries painted at fresco.
Its origin is in roman gardening where roman villas owners used to walk through their gardens surrounded by sculpted figures in shrubs, and continued during the Italian Renaissance. In the XV century, Italy became the birthplace of the European Renaissance. His artists looked toward the past and inspire on the classic culture to develop their creations. The gardeners were not ignorant about this trend and, the tidy gardens with corridors and very pronounced figures, majestic arches and geometric volumes as never seen before, became fashionable again.

In the Tuscany, the parks where the decoration with this cutting hedges is used, are abundant; near Florencia la Villa Capponi (Arcetri), la Villa Marlia (Capannori), la Villa Corsi Salviati (Sesto-Fiorentino),…
France and England are as well two of the maximum exponents of the Topiary Art during the Renaissance. To emphasize in England; the gardens of Cleeve Prior Manor (Evesham), the gardens of Rous-Lench Court (Worcestershire), the park of Levens Hall (Westmorland), the park of Compton Wynyates (Warwickshire) and many others. The geometric gardens achieve his culminating point with André Le Nôtre, designer of the Versalles gardens in 1662, that is going to give (mainly to the boj) conic and pyramid forms.
The nobility started to organize great parties on the gardens of the palaces and villas, that is why they care its appearance to the maximum. One of the favorite plays for the upper class consisted on playing hide-and-seek among carved mazes on incredible hedges.
In Spain, the garden of the Dukes of Albas Palace was one of the best renaissance examples during that time, with a topiaries style inspired in the Italian design. In the XVIII century, the Real Palace gardens, created by Felipe V’s order, took over. And even today, the gardens preserve his magnificent mazes and cypresses with rectangular forms.

The ornamental pruning or topiary consist on creating and keeping one shrub or a tree with a particular form, cutting regularly the shoots that exceed the established silhouette.
Usually it is used some kind of springs and metallic skeletons to guide the growth and to permit to prune the plants later, as it was a stencil. Once we have created that structure, we should wait until the plant grows enough to be able to give the forms. If we do not wait enough we could not achieve the form wanted.
In particular gardens are very remarkable and easy to see elements, as isolated focal points that attract the glance very quickly. The topiary art in plants fits better in formal gardens, but in most situations goes well to enhance space elements.
His greatest problem is that they need more work than other plants because they need a regular prune. If the plants are not going to be kept perfectly outlined it is better not to do topiary, because the carelessness is noticed easily.

More common Species
The topiary art is usually implemented on trees and shrubs of perennial foliage. Generally, species with the most compact possible growth are searched, and with small leafs.
Japanese Privet or Wax-leaf Privet (Ligustrum japonicum), European or common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Mediterranean Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Ficus benjamina (Ficus benjamina), Ficus nitida (Ficus microphylla=Ficus nitida), Laurel (Laurus nobilis), Leyland Cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii), English yew or European yew (Taxus baccata),…
Holly (Ilex aquifolium), Oval-leaved privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium, Ligustrum jonandrum), common box, European box or boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), Japanese spindle (Euonymus japonicus), Common Ivy, English Ivy (Hedera helix), Laurel (Laurus nobilis), boxleaf honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida), common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), common myrtle (Myrtus communis), Japanese Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira), English yew or European yew (Taxus baccata), Tree and Shruby Germander (Teucrium fruticans),…

In garden centers you can buy coned, sphere, obelisked, etc. sculpted plants, but it is also possible to sculpt the plant on your own, buying a “normal” shrub and guiding from zero.
Care of a garden with predominance of topiary are more demanding than one without topiary. In order to maintain the shapes of the various figures, a frequent pruning is required. We can take as a reference a measure of 529⁄32 inch. maximum for the growth of the sprouts, because from that measure, the appearance of the topiary stop being attractive for the view. Knowing these details, it can be a good time to consider if it is the moment or not to enjoy this art with so much history in our gardens.
As it is a process that requires several years to consolidate it, enough patience is necessary.
A gardener with so much practice with scissors can cut at a guess the formation and/or the maintenance cuttings, but is recommended to use skeletons of wood, steel or wire, ropes and planks. The wires are used to give the branches the right direction.
From the year of the plantation and the two or three next years it is recommended to often cut branches to induce new shoots. As much shoots the topiary have, the more beautiful and dense it is going to be.
The shrubs generally tend to grow more on upper ends to the detriment of the base. If we do not intervene from the start, this phenomenon is hard to recover. We will need to prune more severely and pay more attention to the top parts than to the base parts. We have to prune avoiding to make holes and with extreme care with pruning the plant in excess.
The fantasy forms, for example animals, are usually done preparing a skeleton of metallic mail that covers all the figure. Once the metallic mail is full of vegetation, we can cut without problems all which protrude from the skeleton.
The maintenance is base on not to letting the shoots to protrude more than 529⁄32inches from the silhouette. That is the recommendable.
The straight forms, for example, pyramids, are cut with the help of tight cords or with a frame of wood strips. You should turn the frame around all the plant and go pruning all the protruding.
The frequency of cuttings depend on the growth speed of the chosen vegetal species. For example, the Yew or the Boxwood are of very slow growth and depending on the climate and growth conditions, with 1 or 2 cuttings a year is enough; another quickly growth species, require almost a review each month, except on winter.
Sources: facilí, wikipedia, infojardin, jardinitis

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