Saturday, August 06, 2022

GardenDC Podcast Episode 114: The Art of Topiary

In this episode, we talk with Emily Emerick, Executive Director of Ladew Topiary Gardens, about the art of topiary The plant profile is on Nasturtium and we share what's going on in the garden as well as some upcoming local gardening events.

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The SHOW NOTES: 1:17 Meet Emily Emerick, Executive Director of Ladew Topiary Gardens! 2:22 Emily’s childhood in a pseudo-suburban area with gardeners surrounding her home 3:15 “I was bitten by the bug.” — Emily 3:32 Shrub beds at her home garden 5:46 Emily was doing development then moved to consulting where she met board members from Ladew 7:25 Been at Ladew for many years on the board and later in the development department 8:02 Ladew Gardens located between Baltimore City and the Pennsylvania line in Northern Harford County 8:44 World-renowned topiary garden 9:08 Story of Harvey Ladew, original founder of Ladew Gardens 12:20 Garden closed on Wednesdays and from November-April except for the Christmas event 13:30 “Most Outstanding Topiary Garden in America” by Garden Club of America 14:07 22-acre garden is actually relatively compact comparatively 15:10 Restoration of woodland garden in front of the house using Harvey’s original intent for the garden 16:04 Victorian, Rose, and Iris garden as well as a Croquet garden where Harvey used to have courts 16:58 Commitment to design intent 18:45 “Topiary is the shaping of living trees and shrubs.” — Emily 20:13 Plant material used vary throughout the different gardens 22:39 Patience is key when growing topiary 23:40 It’s all about letting the plant grow into the shape that you want 24:21 Round topiary is a great beginning shape to start with 25:36 Cutting the perfect shape then “messing it up” a bit so that light can get into the base of the plant 28:20 “Fuzzy season” is meant to provide nutrients to the rest of the plant 29:45 Have to be patient and not cut the plant back all the time even with a few sprigs sticking out 30:44 Ladew has their own maintenance crew on staff with professional tools and equipment 31:37 “In the Garden” series where guests can spend time with the crew while they tend to the gardens 32:35 Maintaining topiary can be therapeutic 33:49 The hunter on horseback and the fox and the hound are iconic topiaries at Ladew 35:08 Pearl Fryar in South Carolina is another famous topiary gardener 38:03 The topiaries are replaceable if they were to die 39:05 Personality of the artist who works on the plants shows through in the final product 40:20 Extra weight added to the topiary can cause it to break 41:42 Ladew does not protect topiaries from the elements in the winter 42:18 Light, powdery snow can enter the plant through the holes left by the gardeners 42:45 Emily cannot recall any topiaries breaking because of the snow in her time at Ladew 43:35 Breakage more related to disease and some of these plants are a hundred years old 44:50 “Leaf burn” is caused in cold, dry winters 46:27 Get in touch with Emily and Ladew Topiary Gardens through the webpage: and via Facebook Messenger 47:28 Learn all about Nasturtium in this week’s plant profile! 49:31 New in the garden this week: geraniums and begonias are thriving in the heat, and peppers in the community garden 50:11 Local gardening events: The Urban Tree Summit, The Family Fall Festival at Greenspring Gardens, and Benefit for the American Horticultural Society 100th Anniversary Gala

If you liked this episode, you may also enjoy listening to:
GardenDC Podcast Episode 79: Boxwood
GardenDC Podcast Episode 38: Art in the Garden

This episode is archived online at:

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Episode Credits:
Host and Producer: Kathy Jentz
Editing and Show Notes: Tori Vandergriff


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