Definition of topiary in US English:


nounPlural topiaries

  • 1The art or practice of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes.

    • ‘But in Young's opinion bonsai is no worse than cutting grass, pruning roses or keeping topiary.’
    • ‘You could always choose to retreat - give up bodybuilding and transfer your energy into Civil War re-enactments or topiary gardening - but you didn't turn to this page only to give up on your dream.’
    • ‘A topiary features plants trimmed into the shapes of animals and birds.’
    • ‘The garden she made is so well known today and has been so influential, that it is difficult to remember how unfashionable formal gardens, knots and topiary once were.’
    • ‘My topiary skills are not highly developed but at least it looks a little more under control, now.’
    • ‘Small-leafed, slow-growing types of geraniums lend themselves to the painstaking art of topiary.’
    • ‘Lemon verbena is also useful for topiary work, making nice large standards.’
    • ‘More experienced gardeners may care to have a go at cloud topiary, a Buddhist idea that transforms a bushy shrub into a miniature tree using the inner framework of branches to support a floating ‘cloud’ of foliage.’
    • ‘A secondary aim of topiary pruning is to determine the root.’
    • ‘Pollarding and topiary are extreme examples of pruning to create a desired, unnatural effect.’
    • ‘Outdoors, I put a lot of time into gardening; propagating slow growing trees and succulents and practising topiary.’
    • ‘In 1625, Francis Bacon, whose famous essay opens ‘God first planted a garden: it is the greatest of human pleasures ’, dismissed popular knot gardens and topiary with a sneer.’
    • ‘An outstanding example of violently abusing plants for our entertainment is topiary art.’
    • ‘Some varieties lend themselves to topiary sculpture, espalier, or bonsai training.’
    • ‘Some 200 plants have been sculpted by topiary experts into different designs and there are at least 800 hanging baskets.’
    • ‘Along that stretch of two-lane, one encounters a remarkable range of topiary and ornamental eccentricity.’
    • ‘The horticultural art of topiary dates back at least 2,000 years, to when the ancient Romans cut bushes and trees into ornamental shapes.’
    • ‘After you've gotten the knack of making a simply topiary shape, you can try more elaborate shapes, such as animals and giant birds.’
    • ‘In fact, topiary pruning can create health hazards for the plant, lower it's value and waste time and money.’
    1. 1.1 Shrubs or trees clipped into ornamental shapes.
      ‘a cottage surrounded by topiary and flowers’
      • ‘The south terrace was pushed out to form a larger lawn which was decorated with topiary evergreens, as well as urns and a tazza purchased from the Horticultural Society.’
      • ‘He values all of his customers whether they are shopping for an elaborate piece of box topiary priced in the thousands, or a couple of pot plants.’
      • ‘This year's he'll be showing a striking mix of traditional and modern topiary shapes in box, yew and bay, with a ground cover of sedum.’
      • ‘There were two expensive holly topiaries planted on either side of the tall elegant columns at the front door.’
      • ‘Solid, structural plants, particularly clipped topiary shapes, have been used to mark the entrances to homes for centuries.’
      • ‘The stolen goods, four of 15 topiary shrubs snatched from Whitehall garden centre, Corsham Road, disappeared in the early hours of Saturday morning.’
      • ‘Rowe's yard in Vinings, Georgia, has indisputable African antecedents, as manifested in its topiary, fruit trees, swept-dirt grounds, and highly varied adornments.’
      • ‘All that remains of the eighteenth-century Italian garden are three terraces with geometric topiary shrubs.’
      • ‘The middle of the lawn was exceptionally spacious, and topiary trees had been strategically placed in a row.’
      • ‘The outside of the mansion of which the party was being held is a gigantic garden filled with topiary animals of all kinds, elegant fountains, and colorful paper lanterns and twinkling lights.’
      • ‘She says: ‘The form of the sculpture comes from the fantastic topiary trees they have there.’’
      • ‘The magnolias are clipped into pyramids and underplanted with topiary balls that will eventually meld into each other to create a cloud hedge.’
      • ‘You can make and maintain 25 stunning topiaries to add elegance and beauty to your home.’
      • ‘An intricately designed knot garden is the centrepiece, with box hedging and topiary cones forming an outer frame.’
      • ‘She continued: ‘You can also combine traditional ideas with new ones, to create a sensational seasonal topiary tree.’’
      • ‘We dug up the misplaced topiary and turned it around.’
      • ‘Using both live and dried plants, you'll learn how to select materials, frames, and containers, then plant, train, prune, and clip your topiary.’
      • ‘Container and garden grown rosemary takes well to training into topiaries.’
      • ‘The 16.5 acre site boasts natural woodland, a Japanese garden, sunken lawns, topiary and an orangery.’
      • ‘It includes a contemporary parterre planted with 16 abstract topiary shapes.’


Late 16th century: from French topiaire, from Latin topiarius ‘ornamental gardener’, from topia opera ‘fancy gardening’, from a diminutive of Greek topos ‘place’.