VICTORIA -- Giorgio is grabbing a bucketful of long dried leaves, preparing to put the final touches on a Halloween costume for Roberta.

“I’ve been working off-and-on on it for 20 years,” he says, gesturing over to Roberta.

Before we get to ‘her’ in the front yard, Giorgio passes her yet-to-be named neighbours in the back.

“There’s a seal there,” he says, pointing to a bush shaped like a seal balancing a ball on its nose.

The seal didn’t start revealing itself until a few years ago. The topiaries beside him are in various stages of growth.

“That’s a peacock,” Giorgio says, pointing to a bush with expanding ‘tail feathers’.

Next to that is a snail with its head poking out from a shell, followed by a burgeoning squirrel.

“If you have to ask [what it is], I’m not there yet!” Giorgio laughs.

He says the process of shaping the bushes with his clippers feels like playing.

The 70-something spent more than a decade snipping what he calls a “blob of a bush” in his front yard, before Roberta finally revealed herself.

“It wasn’t until I [trimmed] the tail on it that my dad said, ‘It’s a duck!’”

The duck — which has a similar silhouette to a bath time rubber duck — is more than double the height of Giorgio.

He knew Roberta was finished when he started putting hats on her head.

“It’s a little bit of whimsy,” he smiles. “Throw in a little bit of colour!”

In the spring, Roberta wears a floral bonnet. Around Christmas, she sports a Santa hat on her head and a red bow around her neck.

In between those two, Giorgio decorates her with something to go, ‘Boo’.

Giorgio assembles those dried leaves into the base of a large broom. He wraps a black bag around a series of tomato cages to create a pointed witch’s hat and stretches a black tarp across Roberta's back to fashion a cape.

Finally, a white pillowcase covers her beak, like a pandemic mask.

“In COVID time you got to protect your duck,” he laughs.

Because Roberta — who lives on Robleda Crescent — has some work to do this Halloween.

“A little bit of joy,” Giorgio points to his far-from-terrifying topiary. “A little bit of surprise!”