Trending: For bailed-out bankers, ‘creature comforts’ takes on a whole new meaning


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The Independent Online

Few things say wealth like a hedge shaped as a horse leaping a fence on the trail of an imaginary fox.

On Sunday, garden fans got a peek inside the Oxfordshire estate of Stephen Hester, boss of the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland. They enjoyed his rose parterre and, for real horses, Fatty's Paddock, as well as various examplesof topiary. A friend of Julius Caesar's was the father of the art of pruning, which is enjoying a resurgence (animals are popular, though the elephant, above, is not Hester's). The vogue had all but been snipped to death in 1713 by a satirical essay in The Guardian by Alexander Pope.

His ridiculous suggestions for the wealthy included "Noah's Ark in holly, standing on the Mount; the ribs a little damaged for want of water". What might Pope have imagined for Hester? How about a cat in yew, standing at a food bowl, the ribs a little concealed from over-eating?