Now You See It, Now You Don't

Staff Blog

Staff Blog | Aug 09, 2013

Is this little topiary endeavor just a case of a Prius driver taking his interest in being green just a bit too far? 

My car is greener than your car! (Richard Howard Photo)
My car is greener than your car! (Richard Howard Photo)

Turns out, there’s more to this Berkeley, California hedge than meets the eye. Our longtime pal and intrepid Car Talk staff photographer Richard Howard got the full story, and it’s very touching:

My daughter sent me a photo of this hedge in Berkeley that had been topiaried to look like a car-- my eyes immediately saw a Prius. I stopped by and rang the doorbell on the house whose front lawn was graced by this work of art. A yappy dog vocalized first. Then, behind a grated door, I began a conversation with the homeowner, who stepped out and introduced himself as Phil.

He told me that the hedge was started by his wife who had since passed away. After her death, Phil hired a gardener and they finished the work, adding four hubcaps, two stone headlights, and a fin on the back. He calls it his Hedgemobile.

Phil’s wife died 38 years ago. He and the gardener finished the project 10 years after her passing. He said he had never heard of Car Talk and, in a bit of chronological reordering that seemed like magical realism, commented that he stopped using the Internet right after his wife died. He also said I had made his wife very happy by stopping by and honoring the car.

As I was about to leave, Phil pulled a silver dollar out of his pocket and held it between his thumb and forefinger. He quickly moved it to his other hand and said "Now you see it, now you don't.” He opened his hands and the coin was gone.

As I walked to my car he said "Be sure to remember my wife in your story."


Phil, proud owner of the world’s first Hedgemobile. (Richard Howard Photo)
Phil, proud owner of the world’s first Hedgemobile. (Richard Howard Photo)

Thanks Richard, for sharing a story that broke through the day-to-day routines here at Car Talk Plaza, and knocked us back on our suspensions, so to speak.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One