History

7,000 BC Buxus growing in England UK – pollen grains discovered dating to this time – destroyed during Glacial epoch
4,000 BC Egyptians clipped box hedges in their gardens
800 BC In the tomb of King Midas a table made from the wood of Buxus was discovered in 1951
300 BC Greek horticulturist Theophrastus recognised the virtues of Buxus
100 BC Rome – In the reign of Emperor Augustus many villas were planted with Buxus hedging and Topiary
Roman gardener, Pliny grew Buxus for his garden and for making musical instruments
Romans re-introduced Buxus to England
Dark Ages Europe returned to topiary through hedges and galleries. One special form was the clipping of trees into tiers (wedding cake)
1494 During the reign of Henry V11 Tudor, Knots or Knotts first recorded with clipped box, thrift or cotton lavender, bordering them.
1509 – 1547 During the reign of Henry V111, individual specimens were cut for Hampton Court Palace. Cones, spheres, running greyhounds, deer, bears, urns, vases and boats, mostly in Cypress (Cupressus) after the first Italian examples, but it wasn’t reliably hardy
1549 Parterre – first used in France then used in England from 1639 which may have been influenced by Queen Henrietta-Maria, wife of Charles I.
1603 – 1625 Clipping seems originally to have been done with very sharp but small knives. By 1606 during James I reign, sheers similar to those used today were in use.
1660 – 1685 During the reign of Charles II, John Evelyn, writing in 1662, claimed to be the first to bring Yew into fashion.
1652 USA – Nathaniel Sylvester believed to have planted the first Buxus sempervirens at his Long Island home
1720c Ha Ha – Sunken boundary – thought to be first created by Charles Bridgeman (1690 – 1738), instigator of the naturalistic landscape movement which caused the destruction of many formal parterre and topiary gardens
1700 By the early 18th Century, several nurseries in Great Britain were producing already formed topiary specimens in containers, and some of their original creations are almost certainly still be to be seen at Levens Hall in Cumbria.
1716 – 1783 Lancelot Brown (known as Capability Brown), renowned for natural landscape movement.
1913 Herbert J. Cutbush, a nurseryman, also specialising in topiary. Exhibited Cutbush’s Cut Bushes at flower shows around the country and a display of Topiary at the present site of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 1913 – an arrangement of topiary including exotic birds and animals set down on grass
1854 – 1933 Harold Ainsworth Peto – originally an architect, sold his practice, his contract stated that he was not allowed to practice architecture for a period of 15 years. He became an interior and garden designer specialising in Italianate gardens – Iford Manor, Bradford-upon-Avon.
1869 – 1944 Edwin Lutyens – architect and a former pupil for one year of Harold Peto. Created many gardens in partnership with Gertude Jekyll.
1850c The latter part of the 19th century saw a vast influx of plants from South and Central America and South Africa, usually tender perennials which had to be over wintered and bedded out in late spring. This led to a return to the Knott garden and Parterre, with their clipped box edging and clipped cotton lavender, sometimes referred to as carpet bedding.
1925 Nathaniel Lloyd – influenced by Lutyens – first published a book entitled ‘Garden Craftmanship in Yew and Box.’ Father of Christopher Lloyd, Great Dixter.
1990c Cleve West, garden designer – modern sculptural topiary
2000 Topiary Arts – James Crebbin-Bailey, Topiary specialist