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Trees Gone Spectacular!

Leeba Leichtman

Trees come in an enormous range of shapes and sizes, but as you leaf through this article (yes, pun intended!), you’ll find you never knew how many

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

 Mishpacha image

 

Topiary, as defined by Merriam-Webster, means, “of, relating to, or being the practice or art of training, cutting, and trimming trees or shrubs into odd or ornamental shapes.” Blah — sounds boring, doesn’t it? But anyone looking to define topiary by the dictionary is, well, barking up the wrong tree. In reality, only the artist himself can define what topiary means in his garden. 

From simple spirals to elaborate scenes of human and animal interaction, from basic hearts and diamonds to majestic archways or flowery renditions of the gardener’s favorite childhood memory, topiary design can take on literally any shape. So come allow your imagination to branch out as we dig into the shady yet enlightened world of topiary gardens. It might just plant the seeds for your own creative ideas!

 

An Artist Blossoms

Young Harvey Ladew wandered the bustling streets of his home city, New York. It was the mid-1890s and the boy lacked for little, as his wealthy parents saw to his every need and more. Still, Harvey felt a bit stifled in the shoulder-to-shoulder human traffic and tall buildings that served as the backdrop of his childhood. Noting his creative flair, the boy’s parents looked for the best way to enhance their son’s abilities: They paid curators from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to teach Harvey the language of artistic expression.

In 1929, as America’s Great Depression set in, 43-year-old Harvey Ladew left the hustle and bustle of New York for the quiet, scenic farmland of Monkton, Maryland. It was his interest in hunting foxes that brought him, but the peaceful surroundings and abundant space would lead him to a less harmful and more creative pastime: sculpting trees.

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Pleasant Valley Farm, which he purchased from the Scarff Family, provided over 200 acres of beautiful land — but the old farmhouse was hardly inhabitable. Indoor plumbing? Heat? Electricity? None of the above. There was a small garden, but all it offered was a couple of lonely lilac bushes. 

Throughout the 1930’s, while Ladew hunted hapless foxes and cavorted with the high society of America, England, and Italy, he slowly developed and expanded his home. That task completed, he then drafted farmers from nearby to help him transform the fields on his property, originally geared toward cattle and crops, into an incredible 22 acres of what the Garden Club of America would later describe as “the most outstanding topiary garden in America.”

 

Exploring the Garden

During his numerous trips to England and Italy, Ladew had seen quite the number of dazzling topiary gardens. He was determined to bring the art form to American shores — and indeed, his garden was among the first of its kind on the continent. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 721)

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