The empire where sun never sets, Great Britain, is located off the northwest coast of Continental Europe and is a large island in the North Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 64.1 million in 2013, and an area of 209,331, it is the ninth largest island in the world. The rich heritage and culture that is part of the British Empire is very old and has its origins from 14th century. There are many topiary gardens across Great Britain and each one of them is surprisingly unique and beautiful. So, let’s go ahead and get to know some of them.
A surviving example of 17th century fashion and power, located beside the River Thames the Ham House was built in 1610 by Sir Thomas Vavasour and James I is the first owner. Over the centuries, the ownership of Ham House has changed. In 1948, Sir Lyonell and his son donated the house to National Trust. One can hire a car at Heathrow airport and reach the Ham House in just 37 minutes by coming via Chertsey Road. Currently, the Ham House is owned by National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. The garden of Ham House consists of more than 250 trees stretching east from the house till the arched gate house at Petesham and also south across the open expanse of Ham Common. The house has undergone little or no change for the past 300 years including the gardens that feature the oldest orangery in Britain. One can only visit the Ham House and appreciate its true historic beauty. The formal topiary present in the garden of Ham House is an extraordinary beauty in itself.
Located near to the market town Kendal and the non-metropolitan county Cumbria, the Levens Hall has an ancient history with having inhabitants since 1350. The historical structure has moved between multiple hands and Richard and Naomi are the current owners. Laid out in the 16th century, the garden at Levens is spread across ten acres of land and retains many of its original features. It also boasts of having over 100 species of topiary, each with a unique shape and considered as finest in the world. The plush green and picturesque beauty is truly a feast for eyes.
Located on the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire border, Cliveden is an Italianate mansion. It was house to dukes, earls, and viscounts for more than 300 years and for a brief period to the prince. The foundation for today’s garden at Cliveden was laid by Orkney family. Restoration on the garden and the mansion started when The National Trust took over in 1942. The Long Garden at Cliveden is house to large mass of plants yielding seasonal flowers. The garden also boasts of sculpture created by William Waldorf Astor in 1896. Not to mention the quirky topiary present alongside the sculpture. It is a quick 24-minute drive if you hire a car at Heathrow airport.
Present to the north of Knutsford town Tatton Park is yet another beautiful and historical place. Like all other historic places, Tatton Park too had owners changing across centuries. However, each owner of the park had contributed their bit and played a role in its evolution. The Pleasure Gardens at Tatton’s park has beautiful topiary that was originally introduced by the Romans and revived by the Victorians. The original topiary was much bigger than what it is today. However, the original Victorian style is still retained and is evident by the central peacock topiary shrub.
Having built in the latter part of 16th century by Sir William Greene, Heale House was a wedding gift to his daughter and son-in-law, Sir Gerald Errington. The Heale House lies in the Woodford valley and is only four miles from Salisbury. The old kitchen garden has beautiful topiary and pergolas.
With origins dating back to centuries, the topiary in and around Great Britain carry a rich ancient heritage and they are also the world’s best and finest topiary whose true beauty makes one feel ”Alice in Wonderland”.