Walk through a work of art in downtown Columbus
There’s a magical place in downtown Columbus that gets better with age.
The Topiary Park, a 7-acre landscape with 54 figures made of bronze frames overgrown by yew trees, has nicely taken shape since the attraction opened in 1992.
Figures of women with parasols and men with top hats have become pleasantly plump with greenery, and sculptures of dogs, a monkey and a cat have fattened since I’ve last seen them. The attraction, located at the Old Deaf School Park at 480 E. Town St., is a great place for quiet reflection or a fine backdrop for family photos.
My family and I visited the park on a cloudy day, the perfect kind of weather for taking pictures of flowers and landscaping. We began our adventures by stopping at the nearby visitor’s center, where we picked up an information sheet before taking our self-guided tour.
The park is a sculptural interpretation of Georges Seurat’s Post-Impressionist painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.” It’s the only known topiary representation of a painting.
I remember the large artwork composed of tiny brush stroke dots from the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” As a teenager I relished seeing the oil painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Visitors can see the work from the artist’s view by standing on a hill near a bronze plaque. The tallest figures, measuring 12 feet, were placed in the foreground, giving the scene depth of field.
A local sculptor named James T. Mason envisioned the attraction. The project took shape in 1988 as James built bronze frames and planted the shrubs. His wife, Elaine, sculpted the topiaries and trained other gardeners to help with trimming. Hills were added later, along with a pond representing the Seine river in Paris, with boats and water lilies.
The park is maintained by Columbus Recreation and Parks and the Friends of the Topiary Park.
The visitor’s center, gift shop and restrooms are located in a nearby chateau-style gatehouse.
The park is the site of a family concert series called PBJ & Jazz, which occurs from noon-1 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month from June through September. Outdoor movies also are shown on select dates from July through September.
(Be advised, though, that the park also is a resting spot for a variety of downtown’s denizens.)
Admission is free. Hours are from sunrise to sunset. On-street parking is available. For more information, visit www.topiarygarden.org or call 614-645-0197.