Immaculately clipped trees and shrubs have become covetable features in gardens of late – whether on display at Chelsea or in private spaces such as Charlotte Molesworth’s extraordinary topiary garden in Kent. After several years of visiting gardens big and small, I too have been seduced by the allure of these exquisite shapes, whether organic and free-form (curving cloud-pruned hedges) or something as crisp and simple as a collection of neat box balls. They add structure, interest throughout the year and a whimsical flourish as well.
As my interest has grown, I’ve begun shaping plants in my own garden and in the process have learnt how important the right tools are in achieving really crisp, neat topiary – good tools are everything. Nothing has transformed my accuracy more than a particular pair of garden shears (£72) from Jake Hobson’s Niwaki shop, which imports Japanese garden tools and tripod ladders, as well as kitchen knives.
The shears, which have high-carbon SK steel blades, beautiful white oak handles and a leather sheath, feel wonderfully balanced and snip through box like a knife through butter – they make the job an utter joy. Hobson also has Niwaki topiary shears (£149), which have exceptionally sharp Aogami Blue Paper Steel blades.
The most important thing I’ve learnt (especially as a previous abuser of garden tools) is that by keeping equipment clean and sharp, you’ll help prevent diseased plants. So if you’re seduced by these beautiful Japanese tools, it’s also worth investing in a sharpening stone (£15).