African Garden + work

Why I Hate American Topiary & the Abuse of Stella

It's rant time again. The first has been brewing in my brain since Spring Fling, when I was riding around with MSS of Zanthan Gardens, Bill of Prairie Point, and Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings. Someone commented on the lame attempt at topiary in the median of the road. We all agreed that we hated topiary unless it was whimsical (e.g., animals or question marks). After reading quite a few posts from British bloggers, I realized that I don't hate all topiary. I just hate most American topiary, as it is badly done and in an inappropriate setting. Way back in June, Zoe from Garden Hopping asked why I think topiary doesn't work in American gardens. Finally, here's the answer for which you all have been waiting:

first, are the green meatballs and gumdrops.

And here are some examples in context.

These are all just drive-by shootings, taken at random on my way around town running errands, merely a representative sample of the foliar follies. At least with this example, an attempt has been made to avoid the meatball.

As these photos (hopefully) demonstrate, most of the attempts at topiary, even without the meatballs, just don't work with the casual style of house and garden in which they find themselves.
Commercial attempts are even worse:

I believe that used to be a Crabapple. I've even seen Magnolias getting this treatment. What were they thinking?

Although all these photos were taken in the same strip mall in Lake Zurich, Illinois, they could have been taken anywhere in America, land of Lollipop trees and green meatballs.

The last photo brings me to a related rant, the abuse of poor Hemerocallis 'Stella D'Oro.' Several British bloggers can't understand how most American bloggers hate Stella. This is a carefree plant that repeat blooms throughout the summer. While I believe there are no banal plants, there is such a thing as the banal use of plants, and no plant has suffered such misuse and abuse as Stella. In parking lots across America, Stellas are grown by the thousands. Most are segregated into Stella-ghettos, in raised medians between parking rows.

Most are never deadheaded, but are left to form unattractive seed heads, instead of continuing to bloom.

After being forced to see this plant so mistreated at the grocery store,

at the gas station,

at restaurants,

is it any wonder that we have no desire to see it at home, no matter how well we would care for it?

If you have any examples of truly terrible topiary or cruel and unusual Stella abuse, leave me a message and a link. I'd love to see them.

edit. 8/7/08 Several comments have indicated that the above photos do not depict actual topiary, merely truly terrible pruning. I apologize for the slander of topiary in general and American topiary in particular. I hope this clears up any confusion.

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Why I Hate American Topiary & the Abuse of Stella + work