Joseph Marmin, Topiary garden

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About the Artist/Site

Joseph Marmin, following in the vocation of his father, was a horticulturalist in the western area of the Loire’s Vendee department; the family’s shop was located on Les Essarts’ main square. As a young man, Marmin had learned how to grow and maintain topiary from another master gardener, likely his father. After his retirement, he decided to resurrect his knowledge of this talent in order to use nature herself to create a special and personal garden.

He began to construct armatures of steel wire and cane, sculpting them to the contours that he envisioned for his topiary sculptures. Most of his works were scaled at life size; they included human figures as well as a range of animals and birds, the latter including swans, storks, herons, ostriches, ducks, eagles, and a vulture perched on the back of a chicken. A horseback rider shared space with a trumpet player and various idealized figures of both sexes. During his lifetime Marmin kept the topiary well-trimmed, but if it was left for too long without maintenance, the living stems would branch out beyond the originally-conceived silhouettes, creating an otherworldly scene of bristly and startled-looking creatures.

The topiary garden is no longer extant, but the Marmin family business continues its topiary work, inspired by the work of the artist Joseph Marmin, the great grandfather of the current owner.

~Jo Farb Hernández


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