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The Topiary Trees of San Francisco

San Francisco residents have a particularly strong liking for topiary trees, as apparent from these photographs taken by three different photographers. One is Marc Alcock, a British photographer, who after moving to San Francisco in 2010, became interested in photographing the visual differences between the two places. One of the things that struck him about San Francisco, Los Angeles and the surrounding suburbs were the houses and the unique relationship they have with plants and nature.

“Every house on the street has it’s own unique personality,” he says. “The paint colour, the architectural features and nature all working together to form something completely personal to the owner.”

“At one end of the scale I found lovingly crafted topiaries, that were thoughtfully paired with architectural details – a conscious aesthetic decision. At the other end there are buildings swallowed by nature. The plants functioning as camouflage for the home.”

“I’m sure the people that inhabit the homes are just as interesting and idiosyncratic,” he adds. “But the details in the images only offer clues as to who may live there.”







Alan W. George discovered the same when he moved with his wife from Nashville to San Francisco. In his series of photographs entitled Domesticated, Alan examines, “domesticated urban plants and people’s attempts to control and manipulate them in sometimes trivial and inconsequential ways. My hope is that these at times humorous and tragic examples echo conditions within the larger context of the relationship between humanity and nature. I also hope that the viewer can identify with certain human or anthropomorphic characteristics of the subjects, perhaps feeling a bit saddened by their subjugated circumstances.”







More recently, photographer Kelsey McClellan has been sharing on Instagram images of these carefully pruned trees around her neighborhood in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset. Some of them resemble vertical stacks of pom-poms, others look like swirls in ice cream cones. Enjoy the rest of the gallery below.





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