In this paper we discuss ethical and aesthetic questions in relation to the gardening practice of topiary. We begin by considering the ethical concerns arising from the uneasiness some appreciators might feel when experiencing topiary as a manipulation or contortion of natural processes. We then turn to ways in which topiary might cause an 'aesthetic affront' through the humanizing effects of sentimentality and falsification of nature (most often found in representational rather than abstract topiary). Our contention is that successful topiary emerges through a dynamic and positive relationship between topiarist and tree, where the gardener works with nature's forms instead of in strong opposition to them. Appreciation of successful topiary, we shall argue, is marked by an experience of both the tree as a living thing and the artifice which has shaped it.


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pp. 127-142
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