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Topiary adds creativity to indoor, outdoor gardens

Topiary defined: … “Characterized by the cutting or arranging of shrubs or trees into shapes as in gardening.” Fascinated with the artistic medium of topiary for most of my life, I have two that have been growing in my kitchen window for several years. So easy to create, simple to maintain, and once well started, it will provide entertainment for years. This is a houseplant anyone can start and enjoy. Add a dash of patience and it is good to grow.
Let’s go through the simple steps. Begin by obtaining a form. For ideas, look first on the Internet to see the types, sizes and shapes of available forms. Once we have our idea set, call around to local growers to find one that carries wire topiary forms, with or without moss. Some greenhouses carry forms with plants already started on them, so they only need care.
Check the library and Internet for instruction books on topiary how to. It’s possible to construct the shape you wish using green chicken wire. Purchased forms range from hearts, small animals as rabbits and squirrels, to full-size specimens as golfers, fish, deer, dogs, and cows. To create large life-size topiaries outside in the garden, select a healthy, growing evergreen shrub with fine foliage that can be easily trained and snipped, and create a wire form around the bush.
With this done, the fun begins. Patiently prune the bush a little at a time as it grows, to fill the topiary form, and cover the wire. This is a frequent but not time consuming fun activity. Pruning frequently is needed to create and keep the shape of the subject.
Small, indoor vine topiary is easy, and if you purchase a form filled with moss, it is ready for adding plants. Select plants of angel vine, with small leaves, English ivy, vinca minor, myrtle or Boston ivy to cover your topiary form. Moss filled forms are faster because as vines grow over topiary forms, the topiary takes on a green look quickly. Several plants cover the topiary even faster.
Keep the topiary pruned and help vines curve around the forms. Large macramé pins hold the vines in place until they become rooted in the moss.
Mist with water with a few grains of soluble fertilizer now and then keeps the topiary actively growing.
Another easy topiary requires a 3-foot branch from a tree for a trunk, and a florist foam ball the diameter of the pot. Use plaster in an old nursery pot to anchor the trunk and protect the outer pot, add the foam ball to the top of the trunk, then cover the ball with cut greenery.
With the anchor pot inserted into the decorative pot, cover the base of the “trunk” with green sheet moss. Alternatively, use a sphagnum filled florist ball, plant a vine in the pot and let it grow up the “trunk” to cover the ball for a live topiary. Happy Gardening Everyone!
Jeanne Cope is a garden writer and
UT Lifetime Master Gardener
Email her at [email protected]