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TOPIARIES

BY BRUCE ZIMMERMAN

A growing trend in gardening is to add wire formed animals such as Lions; turtles; horses and alligators to the home landscape.

Some of the tools you may need:
Transplant fertilizer; Water-soluble fertilizer; secateurs; pencil; crochet hook; long fibered Peat moss; water; kitchen knife; soil less mix; topiary shears.

WARNING: Never useKing of Your Jungle - Spider Plant - Creeping Jenny soilless mixes or any form of peat moss in a dry state. They pose a respiratory hazard.  They can also hold up to fifteen times their own weight in water.  This will make them very heavy. Therefore large Topiaries should be planted as close as possible to their final position in the home landscape.

 These wire formsNot Franklin the Turtle But Just as Cute are either pre-stuffed or you fill it yourself with long fibered Peat Moss.  The larger forms are usually constructed in two half’s which are later locked together with lock ties.  If they are pre-stuffed remove the center of the peat from the body and take your selected plants and tip them up inside the cavity.  Using a crochet hook or pencil gently pull the plants leaves up through the wires.  If the plant is very large then you can take the wire Tell Your Kids They Are Getting a Pony snipes and cut several wires to allow the plant to be positioned.  The wires can then be folded back in to secure the plant in place.   In smaller diameter areas of the wire form small plants can be tucked in by bending the wires then using the crochet hook or pencil to create a hole where the plant can be inserted.  The peat Moss is firmed around its roots and the wires if necessary can then be bent back into their original position. These procedures are repeated until the topiary form is as covered as much as you want. The general rule for the spacing of the plants is small plants two to three inch centers vines are usually placed on six-inch centers.   Large plants can be divided into smaller plants by carefully cutting their root balls with a sharp kitchen knife or secateurs.  

Fertilizing

The Soilless NPC Mosiculture Garden Demo - Topiary Plantingmix or long fibered Peat Moss has no nutrient value.  So when you have completed planted your Topiary water in the plants with a transplant fertilizer containing a rooting hormone.  On a regular basis fertilizer the animals with 20-20-20 for green growth, or 15-30-15 for flowering.   

Trimming

Use ferning pins to tack vines to the long fibered Peat Moss and trim regularly with scissors or secateurs.

Watering 14 foot giraffe Topiary Picture from Green Piece Wire Art

Watering depends a lot on the demand by the plant material and there growing environment.  Adjust your watering appropriately.  Topiaries will generally dry out quickly so check them daily until you see their watering pattern.  

Over Wintering your Topiary

Best stored in a bright frost free area reduce their watering but never let them dry out. If they are to big to move try this, place stakes in the ground and wrap a single thickness of burlap one to two inches above the ground and one foot above the top of the Topiary and open at the top. In harsh climates stuff the burlap with straw.

These pictures were taken at the Niagara Parks Topiary Garden (defunct)

Some recommended plants for your Topiaries

HENS & CHICKS SEMPERVIVUM FULL SUN TOLERANT OF DROUGHT
VINCA VINCA MINOR TOLERATES DRY SHADE
VINCA VINCA  M. AUREO-VARIEGATA PARTIAL SHADE / SHADE
STONECROP SEDUM FULL SUN RICH MOIST WELL DRAINED
AJUGA AJUGA M. CRISPA RICH MOIST WELL DRAINED
SEDUM SEDUM ACRE MOIST WELL DRAINED TOLERANT OF DROUGHT
BLACK BRASS BUTTONS LEPINELLAS PLATT'S BLACK MOIST FULL SUN PT.SHADE WELL DRAINED
CREEPING JENNY LYSIMACHIA NUMMULARIA PT. SHADE/FULL SHADE MOIST SOIL
HUTCHINSIA HUTCHINSIA ALPINA FULL SUN WELL DRAINED
SAXIFRAGE SAXIFRAGA FULL SUN/PT.SHADE
CREEPING FIG FICUS PUMILA MOIST WELL DRAINED NO DIRECT SUN
MONDO GRASS OPHIOPOGON FULL SUN WELL DRAINED MOIST
DIANTHUS  D. "TINY RUBIES" ALKALINE MOIST WELL DRAINED SUN
BABY TEAR'S (DIFFICULT) HELXINE SOLEIROLII MOIST SHADE WELL DRAINED
THYME THYMUS DROUGHT TOLERANT MOIST WELL DRAINED SUN
ARABIS  ARABIS  ALPINA VARIEGATA MOIST WELL DRAINED SUN
ARMERIA MARITIMA SEA THRIFT MOIST WELL DRAINED  FULL SUN
GALIUM ODORATUM SWEET WOODRUFF MOIST RICH  WELL DRAINED
SPIDER PLANT CHLOROPHYTUM COMOSUM MOIST WELL DRAINED  FULL SUN
PUSSY TOES ANTENNARIA FULL SUN
CAREX  CAREX  MOIST WELL DRAINED PT SHADE
COTTON LAVENDER SANTOLINA CHAMAECYPARISSUS MOIST WELL DRAINED FULL SUN
POLK- A-DOT PLANT HYPOESTES MOIST WELL DRAINED SUN -CUT BACK FOR BEST COLOUR
KEW EUONYMUS EUONYMUS F. 'KEWENSIS MOIST- SUN/ SHADE
ENGLISH IVY HEDERA HELIX MOIST WELL DRAINED SUN/SHADE
LILY TURF LIRIOPE PT SHADE MOIST WELL DRAINED
CANDYTUFT IBERIS  MOIST WELL DRAINED FULL SUN
SWEET ALYSSUM LOBULARIA MARITIMA MOIST SUN ANNUAL
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