Brayton Hall, the Brayton family’s former home, is located about 20 minutes outside Newport in the nearby town of Portsmouth. The primary attraction of this site isn’t the house, but the garden, popularly known as the Green Animals Topiary Garden. It has more than 80 topiaries shaped of like animals and objects alongside may other trees and flowers. My favorite topiaries were the owl, the teddy bears, and the T-Rex. The throne-shaped topiaries were pretty cool, too. Owner Thomas Brayton and his daughter Alice, who lived here until the 1970s, employed master gardeners to maintain the animals. The Preservation Society does the same thing, and I got to see their gardeners at work clipping topiaries during my visit.
A topiary-lined walkway.
It was so tempting to try to sit in this topiary chair, but I don’t think that would have worked out well for me or it.
I loved the owl topiary, because owls are my favorite animals. However, this one definitely wasn’t the easiest to recognize.
A sweet teddy bear, with the unicorn topiary in the background
A tranquil spot in the gardens.
Cock-a-doodle-do! It’s a rooster topiary.
I got to stop for a moment and watch this gardener skillfully trim a topiary with small clippers. I imagine the Braytons’ original family of gardeners used the same techniques.
Yes, this is definitely a T-Rex topiary. I checked.
Another view of a topiary with more gardens beyond.
This would make the coolest Christmas tree!
This is the only topiary at Green Animals that depicts a human. The guide says it’s a policeman, but I like to imagine it’s the master gardener himself.
Brayton Hall, the main house, is also open to walk through, but there are no tours. It is very old-fashioned and cluttered, but it is also comfortable-looking. Alice Brayton, who seems to have been something of an eccentric, was also enthusiastic about dogs, toys, and doll houses. The walls of her home are hung with beautiful paintings of her topiaries.
Old books at Brayton Hall
A cozy bedroom.
This doll pram was one of many doll-related collectibles on display at Brayton Hall.
Two of the many paintings of the Green Animal on display at Brayton Hall.