The Telegragh (UK) created a slideshow of topiary around the world, showing examples of literary, religious, geometric, spiral, animal, and other fantastic designs from France, UK, Germany, Italy, and (as seen above), Thailand.
Topiary relates to the art of clipping trees, shrubs and sub-shrubs to create sculptures. According to Wikipedia, the word derives from the Latin word for an “ornamental landscape gardener, topiarius, creator of topia or ‘places’.” In many cases, trees are sculpted with shears, taking shape over time. In others, wire cages are used to guide plants into sculpture. A range of plants and vines can be incorporated.
Wikipedia says the first topiaries were Roman. “Pliny’s Natural History and the epigram-writer Martial both credit Cneius Matius Calvena, in the circle of Julius Caesar, with introducing the first topiary to Roman gardens. Pliny the Younger describes in a letter the elaborate figures of animals, inscriptions and cyphers and obelisks in clipped greens at his Tuscan villa. Within the atrium of a Roman house or villa, a place that had formerly been quite plain, the art of the topiarius produced a miniature landscape (topos).”