I have been a fan of topiaries for most of my life. To me they convey the elegance that comes with discipline and control. I also like bonsai and once watched a man training shrubs in the Asian section of the Denver Botanic Garden for a few hours as he used bamboo to “train” the shape of the evergreen he was working on.
I’ve made many topiaries from simple vines and rosemary plants. The rosemary takes time and patience as it can take a few years to get the rosemary to the point where one can start to shape the plant.
A simple topiary using an ivy vine is very elegant and is easily done in an afternoon using materials you have around the house, like a wire clothes hanger and a container planter.
The first step is to fashion a ring out of wire coat hangers or preferably stiffer wire. The more coat hangers you use the larger you can make your ring. The diameter of the ring should be barely wider than the width of your container. If the circle is too small the proportion won’t look right. It may help to choose a container that is tall and narrow, like an urn shape.
Attach two 6-inch long wire legs to the circle to support the topiary. Fill your container with potting soil. Insert the legs so the ring appears to be sitting on the soil surface. Plant a single vine or two small vines in the center of the container. As the vines grow, part the runners in the middle and twine them up around teach side of the wire ring. Keep twining as the vines grow.
If you are really in a hurry buy a larger 1 gallon plant, like star jasmine with long runners, and twine them up the ring. Keep a pair of scissors handy and trim the center of the ring every month or so to keep the topiary neat. Letting vine trailers flow over the container makes your creation resemble a fountain of green.
Although special any time of year, the topiary can be decorated for special occasions. Look for wire forms at garden centers and specialty shops.
I once bought two ivy topiaries with wire candle holders in the top to use on my dining table at Christmas. It was very special and of course I still have those forms to use again and again when the mood strikes and I have an extra long trailing ivy.
(Source: Southern Living)
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.