A Guinness World Record-holding gardens in Cumbria has created the first World Topiary Day.
South Lakes visitor attraction, Levens Hall and Gardens, which is home to the world’s oldest topiary gardens, located near Kendal, has chosen to dedicate May 12 as this was the day its annual 19th-century ‘Radish Feast’ was held.
The boisterous Radish Feast was staged in and around its magnificent topiary gardens, making it a fitting date to choose.
The topiary gardens were created by French garden designer, Guillaume Beaumont, in 1694, using skills learned with Andre le Notre, designer of the Palace of Versailles’ gardens, for King Louis XIV.
The gardens at Levens Hall have remained timeless and stylish, providing a sanctuary in which to pause and reflect on shapes and symmetry, patterns and ‘personalities’ within the evergreens.
Levens Hall boasts more than 100 topiary pieces, ranging from geometrical shapes to pieces such as Elizabeth I and her Maids of Honour, a Judge’s Wig, a Great Umbrella, the ‘Howard Lion’ (significant for all ‘Wolf Hall’ fans) four peacocks and a Jug of Morocco Ale, commemorating Levens Hall’s own 17th-century secret-recipe tipple, brewed by Daleside Brewery, which has just won a Silver Award at the London Beer Competition 2021.
Topiary is the art of training, cutting, and trimming trees or shrubs into odd or ornamental shapes.
The topiary gardens nestle alongside a peaceful fountain garden, a bowling green, willow labyrinth, Beech circle, pleached lime tunnels, the orchard and Britain’s first ha-ha, a type of sunken fence that was commonly used in landscaped gardens and parks in the eighteenth century.
It involved digging a deep, dry ditch, the inner side of which would be built up to the level of the surrounding turf with either a dry-stone or brick wall.
About 30,000 bedding plants are also grown on-site each year.
Levens Hall and Gardens’ owner, Richard Bagot, said: “Topiary has come in and out of fashion since Roman times, but previous owners of Levens Hall and Gardens’ owners have never been tempted to change their 17th-century design.
“It allows visitors to make sense of the world, find meaning in geometrical and whimsical patterns and shapes and create structure and order within their lives. In 2021, this is more important than ever and we are delighted to found World Topiary Day, to help highlight the joys of this style of garden design.”
Levens Hall and Gardens will be creating tips on how to incorporate topiary into your life for its first World Topiary Day and arranging other activities, as appropriate, according to the COVID-19 situation at the time.