Charlie Albone: Sharp tactics to give your garden a fine, formal appeal

I love a formal garden because there’s something about the arrangement and restraint that appeals to me. Even in a looser garden, a formal dome or ball shape can add a sense of structure and permanence. The issue with introducing these plants is the cost. It takes many hours to create a formal topiary shape and getting in the professionals can be expensive.

So why not give it a go yourself, save some money and get a whole lot of satisfaction in the process?

First, you want a plant with small leaves and a dense growth habit. By having small leaves, you will get a solid form quicker and, in the long run, cutting through a small leaf leads to a nicer look and reduces the chance of browning along cut lines.

A dense growth habit helps with getting a solid shape to your topiary and means the process is sped up a little bit. Buxus is the king of the topiary as it has both a small leaf and dense growth habit. But for a native option you could try coastal rosemary. If you want to add some colour to your topiary you could try the silver of Teucrium, the purple of Loropetalum or the bronze of Eleagnus.

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