Topiary Animals in My Garden

The cat leads the turtle on a magnificent adventure.

Have you ever been to Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, RI? One of the oldest topiary gardens in North America, it’s where I first fell in love with the whimsical art of topiary. Run by the Preservation Society of Newport County (the folks who maintain and manage the famous Newport, RI mansions), the gardens are home to 80 topiary shapes, 21 of them animals. When they were young, my kids were enchanted by the wide-open spaces (7 acres overlooking Narragansett Bay, no less!) where they ran and tumbled while my husband Mike and I sat in the Adirondack chairs on the lawn and admired the bay and our kids); when they were older our kids liked to roam the gardens, striving to point out all 21 of the animal topiaries to Mike and me.

Every time I visit Green Animals I jump out of the car, rush past the venerable copper beech trees and into the gardens where the animals live. I love to look at the animals –elephant, rooster, bear, giraffe, lion – as well as the geometric figures and shapes. For many years, I yearned to have topiary in my garden, but after not a few failures and false starts, I realized I didn’t have the artistic ability to carve animals freeform out of English boxwood and California privet.

The turtle is my favorite form; he always looks great, no matter the weather conditions.

Fast forward to when my Magnificent 7 girlfriend Ginger and I discovered Green Piece Wire Art, a company that sells metal topiary frames in different sizes and shapes. I was in topiary heaven and ordered a standing cat, a sitting kitten, 2 turtles and a sprawling cat. I’ve had the forms for years now and faithfully rework one or more of them annually. They make me smile, even as I’m working the dripping peat moss into the frame around the plants!

This year the cat stands guard in front of the bird feeder and bird bath; I like the whimsy of it all.

This year the turtle, standing cat and sitting kitten got facelifts. Succulents work very well in the peat stuffed topiary frames so I usually use predominantly hens & chicks; they stand up to being planted shallowly in potting soil, wrapped in peat moss and manhandled through the wire frame openings. The cheerful green creatures remind me of Rhode Island vacations and fun with my family.

P.S. Green Piece Wire Art doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall, nor did the company ask me to brag about it. I just love the product. The End.

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