Tag Archives: Plant

Sculpted trees and shrubs

Today I biked around the Berkeley flats (map) snapping photos of sculpted trees and shrubs.  I started the day looking for Japanese style front yards complete with poodle trees, manicured lawns, and rocks, but quickly gave that up when I realized there were so many other types of sculpted trees and shrubs that ranged from quasi-tasteful to laughable. About 5-10% of houses had sculpted plants, and could be crudely divided into three categories:

i) sculpted trees/shrubs that interacted with a house;

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ii) the iconic “poodle” tree;

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and iii) manicured shrubs used as markers, barriers, and borders.

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The shrub barriers were my favorite.   How amazing that one can transform a living thing into something so  calculated and practical; something both very human and inhumane.  Their flat tops and rigid right angles did not care what type of plant was crammed into the shape.  See below 2 plants cut into 1 hedge.   They were little suburban sentries standing guard against those who wished to stray from a sidewalk or cross a boundary between public and private spaces.

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[see more images on my flickr]

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