Art + Botany: Topiary Animals in China

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Art + Botany: Topiary Animals in China

July 7, 2011
08:06am
Photo by: International Horticulture Expo, China

From the green obelisks of early Roman villas to the tidy privet mazes of medieval monasteries, topiary sculptures have evolved alongside the design of the garden. Fancifully anthropomorphic or practically geometric, there seem to be few limitations on what forms can be pruned by a topiary artist. And, it can be a way to design a landscape-specific garden—not with native plants, but with native animals. 

An exhibit of contemporary topiary pieces is on display at this year's International Horticulture Expo, in Xi’an, China. The menagerie of living sculptures includes the red-crowned crane, which gazes at a monkey perched in a tree, and a trio of elephants, strolling along a path of flowers. A cow's legs are firmly planted in a ring of red and purple blossoms, while a giant panda sits in a flower bed and holds her young. 

Bird topiary
Photo credit: International Horticulture Expo, China

Topiary cow
Photo credit: International Horticulture Expo, China

Topiary tourist
Photo credit: International Horticulture Expo, China

Apart from the lounging animals, there is also a topiary sculpture of a different sort (above)—one that very appropriate at the tourist-happy event.

To read more about topiary, pick up the May/June issue of GARDEN DESIGN.

Anna Laurent is a writer and producer of educational botanical media. Photographs from her forthcoming field guide to Los Angeles are available for exhibition and purchase at the author's shop.

 

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