Topiary, the art of creating sculpture in clipped plants, originated with the Romans and experienced periods of popularity during the Renaissance and Jacobean eras. However, as the fervour for 'natural' landscapes swept through Europe in the eighteenth century, fashion mocked the few gardeners who continued to clip, and in 1890, William Robinson claimed that 'a man with shears in his hands is doing fool's work'. But as 'ye old Englishe garden' found favour again, so the chess pieces, crowns and artful peacocks broke cover. Today, topiary has seen a revival, and amateurs in the art can purchase 'preformed' rabbits and deer to graze suburban lawns.
Following university, Twigs spent several years working as an archaeologist in England, Europe and South America. She developed a particular interest in prehistoric and environmental archaeology.
In 1990 Twigs commenced a PhD at Cambridge studying the impact of park creation on landscapes in Cambridgeshire. This led her to focus on the social, cultural and status dimensions of landscapes and to further work on park-related crime.
Twigs undertakes consultancy work and research for private clients and for public bodies such as English Heritage. She has compiled a number of histories of private gardens, worked on conservation and management plans for historic parks and gardens, and assisted with the preparation of funding and planning applications. She has also co-ordinated research projects for Essex Gardens Trust.
In the media, Twigs has appeared in television programmes for Channel 4, BBC East Anglia and on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. She is currently working on the relationship between war and gardens. The author lives in Cambridge, England.