The Night Gardener: Animal Tree Topiaries

The Night Gardener_CoverGrimloch Lane is a dreary place, until one day when tree topiaries of animals begin to mysteriously appear: first an owl, then a cat, followed by a rabbit, a parakeet, an elephant, and a magnificent dragon. The residents of Grimloch Lane are captivated by the works of art, especially an orphan named William who, one night, spots an unfamiliar gentleman: it is the Night Gardener and he invites William to assist him as they transform the park trees into many different topiaries. When William wakes up the next morning, he sees that the Night Gardener has left him a pair of sheers – he has also left Grimloch Lane and William changed forever.

The Night Gardener is about the power of art, both on the public scale and on the personal, wrapped up in a piece of art: the book itself.  And so it only seems appropriate to create a piece of art based on it. 


  • The Night Gardener
  • Tracing paper
  • Poster board
  • Construction paper – shades of green for the leaves, but the project could be done with autumnal colors as well
  • Regular paper
  • Pencil – plus, if possible, a dark pencil, i.e. B4+
  • Pen
  • Brown crayon
  • X-acto knife
  • Glue

Preparations (pre-kid):

Cut green (or autumnal colored) construction paper out in leaf-like shapes about 1.5” long and ¾” wide. (Note: if you fold the paper, you can cut out multiple pieces at once.)

The Night Gardener_Piles_6

Stencil (instead of creating a stencil, you can simply “free draw” the outline of a topiary): with a pencil, trace a topiary from The Night Gardener onto tracing paper.

The Night Gardener_Trace_1

Go over the traced topiary with a dark pencil, pressing hard.

The Night Gardener_Carbon_2

Flip the tracing paper over onto the poster board and go over the traced topiary with a pen.

The Night Gardener_Carbon Copy_3

When you remove the tracing paper, you should have a “carbon copy” of the traced topiary on the poster board.

The Night Gardener_Carbon Copy Result_4

Using a x-acto knife, cut out the traced topiary on the poster board. Now you have a stencil of the topiary. (Note: both the “outside” and the “inside” of the poster board cutout can be used as stencils depending on preference and number of people utilizing the stencils at one time.)

The Night Gardener_Stencil_5

Project (with kid):

With a pencil, trace a stencil on the upper portion of a piece of paper

The Night Gardener_Stencil Result_7

Below the stenciled image, draw a tree trunk.

The Night Gardener_Trunk_8

Glue pieces of cut-out construction paper within the outlines of the stenciled image.

Viola, you have your own rendition of a tree topiary from The Night Gardener. 

The Night Gardener_Rabbit_9

And another:

The Night Gardener_Parrot_10

The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


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