KENNEBUNK – Walking into Snug Harbor Farm’s lush green acres, with their gardens and greenhouses and pretty outbuildings such as a grey clapboard dovecote, you will undoubtedly notice the lovely espalier – an eight-foot-high, living fence of two apple trees, Wealthy on the left, Northern Spy on the right.

Along with a cloister and flying buttress, sculpted of hornbeam and privet respectively, the espalier is one of Snug Harbor’s original topiaries, explained owner Tony Elliott. He founded the business, which offers “plants for connoisseurs,” landscape design, nursery/greenhouse, and more, all provided with an old-world ethos and charm.

The original farm here on Western Avenue dates from 1850 and was established by a retired Dutch sea captain.

Succulents and begonias are the “hot plants” just now, Elliott said, but an enduring specialty at Snug Harbor is topiary, the ancient art of cultivating and sculpting plants into shapes – geometric, architectural, or even animal.

Elliott learned topiary from renowned horticulturist Allen Haskell, with whom he worked in the 1980s, and has in turn trained landscape designer Emily Lesperance and greenhouse manager/”topiary queen” Mary Moffitt.

The accompanying photographs illustrate some of their topiary expertise, and some of the plant options available at Snug Harbor.

Please note that a house plant workshop with information on topiary pruning and propagating will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12. The workshop, for the first 20 people to sign up, is free, and will be hosted and conducted by Elliott.

More information can be found at and on the Snug Harbor Facebook page.


Photographs by Melanie Sochan.

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