Clip Art: Topiary Plants for Small Backyards and Gardens

Use these plants to create a dramatic display or as individual points of interest. Simple, geometric shapes suit small spaces better than complex ones.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Common Hornbeam

Like beech, Carpinus betulus ‘Hornbeam’ hangs on to its deciduous leaves through winter. It has slightly denser vegetation than beech and is used extensively in Europe for clipping and topiary work.


Pyracantha spp. has tiny, white flowers in early summer, followed by long-lasting yellow, orange, or red berries from late summer to fall. It can form an attractive clipped lattice and convenient wall. Pyracanthas were once subject to fire blight, but newer varieties seem free of the problem.

Common Hawthorn, May

Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, is very tough and hardy, and makes a good hedge. It can also be clipped to great effect. It will successfully grow almost anywhere.

Common Beech

Beech, Fagus sylvatica, does make a handsome hedge, but can sometimes be too vigorous for a small garden. Although it is deciduous, it holds its leaves well in winter, to glow in the low sunlight.

Japanese Holly

This form of holly, Ilex crenata, has tiny, glossy leaves and grows very slowly. It produces small, shiny, black fruits if not clipped too much, and is not used enough.


Holly, Ilex aquifolium, does not grow quickly, so once you have a topiary in holly, you do not need to clip it so often. By clipping holly, you remove the flowers that produce berries, but the variegation of some varieties has a strong enough impact alone.


The deep green, glossy leaves of boxwood, Buxus sempervirens, provide the perfect foil for flowering plants. Here, balls of boxwood line this bed of bergenia, which will eventually form a hedge. Boxwood can be grown freely as well as clipped.

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