By James Somper
A businesswoman has spent eight years trimming a hedge at the front of her home – to make it look like a giant Colin the Caterpillar.
Tracie Skinner, 44, said her interest in topiary was first sparked when she began to redesign her garden in 2000.
Now Tracie from Nether Stowey, Somerset, has transformed her home into a topiary paradise complete with the 25ft long Colin at the front of her house.
Tracie said: “I’m a passionate gardener and always had an interest in design.
“The green structure of a garden intrigues me.
“I never set out to build a giant caterpillar, he sought of just grew on me.
“I had to go out and trim the hedge one day and I just thought I saw the shape of caterpillar.
“I’ve been trimming him for eight years but he’s still evolving.
The topiary caterpillar was painstakingly created by Tracie after she planted a series of box bushes which forms Colin’s body back in 2011.
Colin’s head was created by planting a hebe bush which was then trimmed to give his distinctive facial features.
Tracie has also given life to a 5ft hight s squirrel was also brought to life using a single box hedge and she has thirty other topiary creations in her garden including lolly pops and cones.
She said: “Colin makes me smile. I don’t really see him as he faces over the road but the neighbours love him.
“People stop and stare at him and say how wonderful he looks.
“It makes people smile and for me being able to spend a few hours of my time creating something that will make people smile isn’t a bad thing.
Tracie has also spent the last five years working on the 5ft high squirrel-shaped bush in her garden who is yet to have a name.
She said: “He was a bush that was a bit overgrown and I gave him a trim and he just evolved from there.”
Tracie said that despite being a dab hand with her shears, she’s entirely self-taught.
She said: “I’m no expert, I’m only self-taught but box hedges are the best to do topiary with because they’re slow growing and very firm.
“I’m a fair weather gardener so I potter around in the garden for about two hours a day. It’s a lot of work but I enjoy it.
“It’s a cheap hobby, shears are cheap and you can buy a hedge for £4, patience is what’s needed
“You get lost in it. I do it by hand rather than with electric shears.”
The bush-mad gardener said she has some crucial advice for anyone thinking of taking up topiary.
She said: “Always keep sharp, clean shears.
“Whatever you create is only limited by your imagination, you can have the obvious stuff but if you want to get carried away you can.”