TOPIARY, a term in gardening or horticulture for the cutting and trimming of shrubs, such as cypress, box or yew, into regular and ornamental shapes. It is usually applied to the cutting of trees into urns, vases, birds and other fantastic shapes, which were common at the end of the iyth century and through the 18th, but it also embraces the more restrained art necessary for the laying out of a formal garden. Yew and holly trees cut into fantastic objects may still be seen in old-fashioned cottage or farmhouse gardens in England. The Lat. topiarius meant an ornamental or landscape gardener, and was formed from topia (Gr. roxos, place), a term specially employed for a formal kind of landscape painting used as a mural decoration in Roman houses.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)