Older people typically spend their days in the comfort of their homes, resting and relaxing as they pass their time. But John Brooker, who is over 75 years of age, decided that he would do something artistic and spent almost 13 years of his life transforming a hedge into a dragon topiary.
The dragon topiary
“My wife is the gardener, I just cut the lawn and do the hedge… She was pleased though as she has something interesting to look at… I think the dragon came from my days in the Army. I did two tours in Malaysia so the dragon must have been in my subconscious,” Brooker said to BBC. The dragon topiary is about 150 feet long and features flaring nostrils, a crested back, and bulging eyes.
The idea for converting the hedge into a dragon topiary came to Brooker’s mind by chance. While standing near the kitchen sink one day, he happened to take a long look at the hedge and thought that it looked boring. Brooker decided to do something about it and ended up with a 13-year project. He spends about two to three days every two or three weeks trimming the hedge and keeping it in shape.
Brooker adds extra details into the topiary whenever he gets the chance. When he climbs his 6-foot ladder to sculpt the top, the farmers in the region often get nervous at the sight of an old man doing such a dangerous thing. Since the dragon topiary is situated close to a public footpath, it attracts a lot of attention from onlookers.
Amazing topiary gardens
The Municipal Cemetery in Tulcán, Ecuador, is home to one of the most stunning topiary gardens in the world. Work on the garden started in the 1930s as a local gardener named Josè Maria Azael Franco began work on sculpting the cypress bushes in the cemetery. “Today, the cemetery has more than 100 intricate topiary creations, maintained by a team that includes some of the now-dead Franco’s sons. Franco was inspired by Roman, Incan, Aztec and Egyptian themes, but his real aim was to celebrate Ecuadorian flora, fauna and indigenous cultures,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.
In Columbus, Ohio, you can find the Topiary Park created by a local artist named James Mason. The topiary sculptures were designed so as to mimic the famous painter Georges Seurat’s pointillism work A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The park calls itself the only topiary park in the world created as an interpretation of a painting. Officially dedicated in 1992, the park houses topiaries of 54 humans, 3 dogs, one monkey, one cat, and 8 boats. The site was formerly a school for the deaf that burned down in a fire.
Marqueyssac is a must-visit topiary garden if you are in France, especially the Périgord region. Though the original garden was created in the 19th century, it got enhanced after the new owner, Julien de Cerval, became obsessed with the garden. “In 1861, De Cerval began laying out a dreamy topiary garden on a hill high above the Dordogne River. He spent the next 30 years overseeing 150,000 boxwoods groomed to mimic the surrounding hills of the Dordogne Valley or, when viewed from above, the backs of grazing sheep,” according to Fox News.
Levens Hall in Lake District, England, is the world’s oldest topiary garden that exists in its original design. The topiaries date back to 1694 and clearly express the design tastes of the 17th century. Shrubs and trees are clipped into geometric or abstract forms. The place also houses an orchard, a bowling green, and a nuttery for growing beechnuts and walnuts.