Dalmeny Estate Topiaries – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Dalmeny Estate Topiaries

Dalmeny Estate

On the outskirts of Edinburgh, a trio of topiary created by one man over the course of more than 20 years. 


There are many things one would expect to encounter when traipsing in and around the Dalmeny Estate, a mixture of farmland and tenanted dwellings, a few miles north of Edinburgh. From grazing livestock to beautiful structures from the 17th-19th centuries, all nestled along the watery estuary of the Firth of Forth. One unexpected site is a trio of topiary that have been manicured to resemble several iconic stone figures from around the world.

Adjacent to a residence with connections to Dalmore Distillery, a company that manufactures vermouth. Resident gardener Michael Kaplan has spent the last 20-plus years cultivating a Yew tree to resemble a moai from Easter Island, an Olmec head from Central America, and a Corinthian warrior from Greece. The heads are even electrically wired so that the eyes blink red, even for just a brief moment.

Using just an ordinary pair of hand-held gardening shears, it takes Michael one whole weekend, three times a year, to keep the hedges in their recognizable shapes. The nearly 20-foot-tall specimens are popular with locals and tourists alike.

Know Before You Go

Dalmeny Estate is only accessible by foot or bicycle, car traffic is not allowed on the premises. One can follow the harbor trail, heading east, out of South Queensferry, or park along the A90 Forth Road Bridge Road and enter through the Chapel Gate Entrance. The walk will take about 20 to 30 minutes along a paved road. Dogs must be on a lead/leash at all times. Certain points may be hindered due to lambing season in the spring months.

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October 28, 2022

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