It began when I discovered the three heads. I'd been down this street before and never noticed them, but that day while riding the bus...

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It began when I discovered the three heads.

I’d been down this street before and never noticed them, but that day while riding the bus, I looked into yards instead of watching for brake lights — and I saw them. A trio of heads, sculpted from shrubbery, gazed toward the street, their features accented by the slant of the afternoon sun. They made me smile.

As a child, I’d devoted oodles of playtime to the hunt for four-leaf clovers in the grass, usually with success. Perhaps this is why my encounter with the three heads triggered a quest to find more topiary.

The photographs here resulted from exploring Seattle’s neighborhoods in search of intentional shapes in evergreen. Along the journey, homeowners opened their doors to me, providing history behind the shapes.

Pruning tips


Got the urge to try your hand at topiary? PlantAmnesty offers information on proper pruning techniques. For details, go to www.plantamnesty.org.

— Betty Udesen, Seattle Times photographer