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Hidden San Diego: Harper's Topiary Garden in Mission Hills


Hidden San Diego is a series of articles of cool and unique things we don't generally know About San Diego

"Tambourines and elephants, are playing in the band/Won't you take a ride, on the flying spoon...Do, do, do/Looking out my back door."

Some things just project whimsy, and a topiary is one of those things. Green shrubbery grown and trimmed into animals or shapes always bring fascination and smiles to anyone. Typically, you would see these garden trophies in large public venues like estates or parks or other public gathering places. And there's one fascinating topiary garden tucked away in a San Diego neighborhood.

Known as Harper's Topiary Garden, this labor of love is the work of Mission Hills residents Edna and Alex Harper. Sure, many private yards might have a bush or two shaped into a topiary, but Harper's garden is more than that: over 50 creatures and shapes populating her hillside garden. And it's all done for the public's enjoyment.

The garden was started over 15 years ago when the formerly basic garden began to transform after the Harpers were inspired by gardens they saw on their travels. The collection includes a surfer, elephants ridden by monkeys, a rooster, a Buddha, pyramids, a whale,and more. The Harpers do all of the shaping, with the assistance of their gardener, and Edna supposedly spends hours each day tending to the sculptures.

A favorite place for those who have discovered this whimsical piece of living art, Harper's Topiary Garden has attracted attention from both locals and tourists, and the Harper's welcome anyone who wants to take it all in and let their imagination run wild.

Just remember, the garden is the Harpers' private residence and property, so please be respectful of their creations and don't abuse the privilege.

Harper's Topiary Garden is located at 3549 Union St., south Mission Hills, where Vine Street meets Union Street.

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