Have You Tried Ornamental Gardening?

Topiary is the art of clipping and shearing shrubs and small trees into ornamental or abstract shapes. The term comes from the Roman words ars topiaria meaning ‘ornamental gardening’. It’s a creative and relaxing pastime and is perfect for helping you get a spot of fresh air. Topiary is not only lots of fun but will also make your garden look spectacular.

In topiary perennial plants are trained into different shapes by carefully trimming the foliage and twigs. Basic shapes start with globes and pyramids while more advanced structures include everything from peacocks and dragons to people and pets. Pay a visit to a stately home or formal garden and you’ll often find amazing topiary displays.

A good place to start is with a simple structure such as a ball or cube. You don’t need any specialist equipment – just basic garden shears and clippers, although specialist topiary shears are available. You will need lots of patience as the art of topiary takes time – both in waiting for your plants to grow and in painstakingly trimming the foliage to your desired shape. Your efforts will be worth it though when you stand back and admire your artwork.

To make things easier, you can buy a topiary frame made from chicken wire to help guide your structure. You can even purchase plants that are ready potted against a topiary frame for beginners. Then all you have to do is wait for the plant to grow and when you see foliage and twigs coming through the wire, simply clip them back close to the frame. Remember to water and feed plants regularly to help them grow successfully.

The best time to trim your plant is in early or mid-summer when the plant is growing well. A fast-growing plant may need shaping a couple of times throughout the summer. As it grows, the foliage will eventually hide the wire and you will be left with your chosen shape. As you get more advanced, you can buy your own chicken wire to create more intricate shapes and designs. Again, patience is the key as some more complex shapes can take years to become well established.

Some plants are better suited to topiary than others. Generally, it’s best to choose woody, evergreen shrubs with small leaves or needles as these produce the best shape when clipped. Yew, box, privet and holly are all ideal.

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