World’s Oldest Topiary Gardens Found ‘World Topiary Day’

Levens Hall and Gardens, home to the world’s oldest topiary gardens, has created the first World Topiary Day, set for May 12, 2021, to encourage British homeowners to celebrate topiary and its joys.

For World Topiary Day, the Guinness World Record-holding Cumbria-based gardens, has chosen the date on which its 19th century annual ‘Radish Feast’ was held.   The rather boisterous Radish Feast was staged in and around its magnificent topiary gardens.

These 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 Levens gardens 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 boasts around 100 topiary pieces, ranging from geometrical shapes, to pieces such as Elizabeth I and her Maids of Honour, a Judge’s Wig, two Great Umbrellas,  the ‘Howard Lion’ (significant for all ‘Wolf Hall’ fans) four peacocks and a Jug of Morocco Ale, commemorating Leven’s own 17th century secret-recipe brew.  The topiary gardens nestle alongside a peaceful fountain garden, a bowling green, willow labyrinth, Beech circle, pleached lime tunnels, the orchard and one of the oldest Ha Ha features in the UK. Around 30,000 bedding plants are grown each year, to add to the gardens’ special ambience and fragrance.

Topiary has come in and out of fashion since Roman times but Levens Hall and Gardens’ owners have never been tempted to change their 17th century gardens.  These allow 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.  

Inspired by Levens Hall’s stunning topiary, those adopting topiary in their own gardens can benefit from the focus underpinning this  art – careful, concentrated clipping, shaping of the evergreen foliage and plants, attention to detail and then the ongoing enjoyment of the shapes and forms created.  With topiary ‘sculpture’ there is always something special to behold.

Others can express their own personality, choosing a symbol or shape of their own choice to create or add, with perhaps personal and deep meaning.  Some homeowners can just enjoy being in fashion. Brands such as Cath Kidston, Radley and Disney have all used topiary in their marketing and celebrities, including green-fingered Kelly Brook and actress Liz Hurley, are both topiary fans.

Levens Hall and Gardens will be creating tips on how to incorporate topiary into your life for its first World Topiary Day.*   Head to to discover more and also plan your trip to the world’s spiritual home of topiary, to re-shape your life and thoughts, whenever you can.                     

* Other activities will be added as appropriate, according to the Covid-19 situation in May.

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