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Welcome to our Head Gardener’s Journal

In this monthly column, we will share technical aspects of our work and also keep you up to date about ongoing projects. If there is any topic you might want to hear more about, please ask during your next visit!

A Touch of Topiary

Eyecatchers often admired by our garden visitors are the two groups of four ornamental pear trees at the back of the South Garden. Around the fountain, there is Pyrus eleagnifolia ‘Silver Sails’ named for its silvery-green leaves shaped like boat sails. Flanking the gate to the Kitchen Garden is Pyrus nivalis ‘Catalia’, also called ‘Snow Pear’ for its large white flowers. Both varieties flower in the spring with‘Silver Sails’ being slightly earlier than ‘Catalia’. In the autumn, the trees bear small fruit.

However, we do not grow them for the flowers or fruit, but for their silvery foliage which brightens the back of the South Garden during the day and looks fantastic when lit up from underneath at night.

Planted more than ten years ago, both varieties have reached mature sizes of around 6 metres. Because of their position in a formal garden, we decided to keep them in a semi-topiarized shape. The shape is only discernible in the spring as the trees put on a lot of growth during the summer. Therefore, a serious ‘haircut’ is required in the autumn when the trees have lost their leaves.

Young foliage at the end of April
New growth by Mid-July
Defoliated Pyrus nivalis ‘Catalia’ ready for cllipping
Head Gardener Daniel and Assistant Gardener Rhys safely perched on top of A frame ladders.

Because of the amount of growth produced each year, there is no point in trying to prune to a strict form. Instead, we try to achieve a general kite shape which will be visible in the spring but disappear over the course of the summer.

Clipping is done by hand, using secateurs and loppers.

Hand-clipping
The ‘finished article’

Ready to go!