East Coasters Flock to This Jersey Farm for Stylish Topiaries

Timeless plants thrive at Atlock Farm in Somerset County farm under the care of Ken Selody.

Ken Selody at his Atlock Farm in Somerset
Ken Selody, owner of Atlock Farm in Somerset, says rosemary, lavender, euonymus, angel vine and coleus are among his most popular offerings. Photo: Erik Rank

The largest topiary producer in New Jersey and one of the best-known decorative topiary purveyors in the United States, Atlock Farm grows specimens ranging in height from 8 to 80 inches. The place is a plant-lover’s paradise.

Classic topiaries—hand-pruned shrubbery grown in individual pots—have been mainstays of design for centuries, achieving cult status among interior designers and home-decor enthusiasts. “If you look at design magazines from 30 years ago and even 60 years ago, you’ll see topiaries featured in beautiful spaces. It’s a horticultural art that will remain forever,” says Ken Selody, ornamental gardener and owner of the Somerset County farm.

Selody’s interest began in 1990, when Allen Haskell of New Bedford, Massachusetts, was regarded as the king of topiary. “I had a successful business growing unusual garden plants in the late eighties and was intrigued by topiaries, but was groping around in the dark before I met Haskell. He was very generous with his time and even introduced me to Margaret Williams, his top cutter,” Selody says. After Haskell passed in 2004, Williams began working for Atlock Farm, and soon topiary lovers from all over the East Coast flocked to Selody for their topiary needs. Williams remains on his team today.

[RELATED: How to Find the Best Houseplant for Your Space]

About 25 years ago, Selody gained widespread recognition as a gardening expert and contributing editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine. He supplied noted American horticulturalist Bunny Mellon’s Oak Spring Farm with Wedgwood thyme topiaries, delivered a truckload of plants to a swanky New York City party thrown by Tom Cruise, and contributed topiaries for a scene in the 2009 film Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep.

The gregarious Selody shared his expertise on a widely viewed HGTV.com appearance in 2022, which included tried-and-true growing tips and a tour of his farm. Although some regard topiaries as finicky plants, Selody maintains they simply require regular watering and sunshine. One might think his own home would be loaded with topiaries, but Selody admits, “I live with seven cats who treat plants like scratching posts. So I’m content to live with fresh topiaries in my greenhouse 12 hours each day.”

Atlock Farm, 545 Weston Canal Road, Somerset; 732-356-3373; @atlockfarm on Instagram.

Follow our home & style editor on Instagram (@susanbrierlybush).

No one knows New Jersey like we do. Sign up for one of our free newsletters here. Want a print magazine mailed to you? Purchase an issue from our online store.

Read more Home & Style, Style & Shopping articles.