HAVE you ever come across a perfectly manicured shrub in the shape of an animal or other geometrical forms that left you pondering how it came about or wondering if its seeds were genetically altered to produce such aesthetic vegetation?
Well, you would be surprised to know that it is merely a plant that has been intentionally crafted to take the figures of anything beyond one’s imagination albeit through a rigorous pruning schedule and a bit more attention.
Such ornamental trees are called topiaries, whereby perennial plants in the horticultural practice are trained to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes which are symmetrical or whimsical by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs.
Although this art form has been practised since the glory days of Renaissance in France, it has now been adopted all over the world because of its ability to catch the attention of any onlookers.
Muhamad Adli Salihin Samsudin, the assistant director of floriculture section at the Agriculture Department, said what is most important in choosing a suitable plant for topiary is that it must have small leaves, flexibility for pruning and evergreen foliage, as well as its growth rate.
“In Malaysia, some of the favourite topiary plants are Pokok Kesinai (streblus asperous) Pokok Jati Laut/Sea Teak (podocarpaceaeb polystachyus), Pokok Ara (ficus microcarpa), Pokok Kelat Paya (eugenia papillose duthie), bougainvilla, Chinese Fringe Flower (loropetalum Chinense) and Fukien Tea (ehretia microphylla),” Adli told NST Property.
While most of the topiary trees can be found in public spaces like botanical gardens, by the roadsides on top of dividers and the foyer of shopping complexes, having a tree with a spiral shape, cone, dome or any other fancy animal shapes in your own garden will definitely create a statement to your overall landscape.
“Topiaries are not necessarily just evergreen plants but you can also opt for trees that have leaves with other colours. One thing for sure, having this kind of ornamental plants in your garden will enhance the look of the space. Not just kids but even adults will be amazed by it,” said Adli.
“For managing these plants, it is like any other routine of watering, nourishing and fertilising it like any ordinary plants but what is crucial is to never let them grow out of shape to the extent that the original shape that we intended is not recognisable,” he added.