topiary


topiary
/toh"pee er'ee/, adj., n., pl. topiaries. Hort.
adj.
1. (of a plant) clipped or trimmed into fantastic shapes.
2. of or pertaining to such trimming.
n.
3. topiary work; the topiary art.
4. a garden containing such work.
[1585-95; < L topiarius pertaining to landscape-gardening or to ornamental gardens, equiv. to topi(a) (pl.) artificial landscape ( < Gk tópia (sing. topion), dim. of tópos place) + -arius -ARY]

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Art of training living trees and shrubs into artificial, decorative shapes.

Topiary is known to have been practiced in the 1st century AD. The earliest topiary was probably the simple development of edgings, cones, columns, and spires to accent a garden scene. This architectural use gave way to elaborate shapes such as ships, hunters, and hounds. The fashion reached its height in Britain in the late 17th and early 18th century but was displaced by the so-called natural garden.

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 the training of living trees and shrubs into artificial, decorative shapes. Thickly leaved evergreen shrubs are used in topiary; the best subjects are box, cypress, and yew, although others—such as rosemary, holly, and box honeysuckle—are used with success. Topiary is said to have been invented by a friend of the ancient Roman emperor Augustus and is known to have been practiced in the 1st century AD. Earlier references to it are lacking, but the art probably evolved over a considerable period from the necessary trimming, pruning, and training of trees. The earliest topiary was probably the simple shaping of dwarf-box edging and the development of cones, columns, and spires of box to give accent to a garden scene. This architectural use gave way early to elaborate representationalism; shrubs were shaped, for example, into ships, huntsmen, and hounds.

      In the 18th century topiary was called the art of the tree barber; but its practitioners say it is, rather, the art of the tree mason and leafage sculptor. It has always been of limited application in places where sculpture in stone was cheap or expense was no object; the best examples are seen not in Italy or the princely gardens of France but rather in England and The Netherlands, where suitable plants flourished and where stonework was costly. The fashion reached its height in England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries but was displaced with the rise of the so-called natural garden (see English garden).

      Topiary is ephemeral. Although there are surviving examples that are probably several centuries old, most traditional topiary gardens are replacement plantings.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
(as the trimming of hedges, trees, paths, etc, in a garden)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Topiary — is the art of creating sculptures in the medium of clipped trees, shrubs and sub shrubs. The word derives from the Latin word for an ornamental landscape gardener, topiarius , creator of topia or places , a Greek word that Romans applied also to… …   Wikipedia

  • topiary — [tō′pē er΄ē] adj. [L topiarius, concerning an ornamental garden < topia ( opera), ornamental gardening < Gr topos, place: see TOPIC] designating or of the art of trimming and training shrubs or trees into unusual, ornamental shapes n. pl.… …   English World dictionary

  • Topiary — Top i*a*ry, a. [L. topiarius belonging to ornamental gardening, fr. topia (sc. opera) ornamental gardening, fr. Gr. ? a place.] Of or pertaining to ornamental gardening; produced by cutting, trimming, etc.; topiarian. [1913 Webster] {Topiary… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • topiary — (adj.) 1590s, from L. topiarius of or pertaining to ornamental gardening, from topia ornamental gardening, from Gk. topia, plural of topion, originally a field, dim. of topos place. The noun is first recorded 1908, from the adjective …   Etymology dictionary

  • topiary — ► NOUN (pl. topiaries) 1) the art of clipping shrubs or trees into ornamental shapes. 2) shrubs or trees clipped in such a way. ORIGIN Latin topiarius ornamental gardener …   English terms dictionary

  • topiary — I. adjective Etymology: Latin topiarius, from topia ornamental gardening, irregular from Greek topos place Date: 1592 of, relating to, or being the practice or art of training, cutting, and trimming trees or shrubs into odd or ornamental shapes;… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • topiary — UK [ˈtəʊpɪərɪ] / US [ˈtoʊpɪˌerɪ] noun Word forms topiary : singular topiary plural topiaries a) [countable] a bush or a tree cut into a particular shape for decoration b) [uncountable] the art or act of cutting bushes and trees into particular… …   English dictionary

  • topiary — to•pi•ar•y [[t]ˈtoʊ piˌɛr i[/t]] adj. n. pl. ar•ies 1) bot (of a tree or shrub) clipped or trimmed into fantastic or ornamental shapes 2) of or pertaining to such trimming 3) bot topiary work; the topiary art 4) bot a garden containing such work… …   From formal English to slang

  • topiary — /ˈtoʊpiəri / (say tohpeeuhree) adjective 1. (of hedges, trees, etc.) clipped or trimmed into (fantastic) shapes. 2. of or relating to such trimming. –noun (plural topiaries) 3. topiary work; the topiary art. 4. a garden containing such work.… …   Australian English dictionary

  • topiary — 1. adjective a) In the manner of a topiary. b) Of, or relating to art of topiaries. 2. noun a) A garden decorated with shrubs which have been trimmed in artistic shapes, often of animals. b) One such shrub or tree …   Wiktionary


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