Friday, May 11, 2012

Topiaries Carve a Place Indoors and Out

Let's look at some examples of topiary plants and how you can use them around your house...

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Topiaries Carve a Place Indoors and Out

In a garden, by a sink or decorating a living room, topiaries add a sculptural, artful touch

Topiary gardens can take years to grow and perfect (they're not for the faint of heart). For those who are committed to maintaining a formal topiary garden, however, the results can be magnificent.

Join me as I take a look at a few inspirational topiary designs, from the smallest sinkside rosemary to a grand showcase garden in Pennsylvania.

Topiary is the art of shaping plants into recognizable forms by pruning. In outdoor gardens, spherical shapes create a fanciful look. A collection of shaped evergreens gives a Dr. Seuss–like appeal to this space.

The classic miniature standards seen here look like small trees, each with a singular trunk and round pom-pom top. Woody herbs such as lavender and rosemary make ideal candidates for sinkside or countertop miniature standards.

Extend the standard topiary to create three balls of foliage, and you have another traditional form. This topiary brings a little green to a music room.

Topiaries aren't just for traditional spaces. Try two matching trees, shaped as standards, in a modern space. Use this technique on a lemon or lime tree for a topiary that's both beautiful and edible.

Another classic topiary form is the spiral. Choose a plant that has already been shaped or select your own upright evergreen. An arborvitae is a good choice for this type of creation.

Short on space? Try the spiral look in a miniature. Kept in a small pot, a topiary will stay diminutive in size.

For more inspiration, I traveled to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The gardens have a magnificent display of old, wizened topiary forms mixed with whimsical additions in charming shapes.

This terraced, spherical pyramid shape is repeated often throughout the space.

Shapes like these must be trimmed several times a year. The gaps between the layers quickly disappear when they aren't tended regularly.

Some of the topiary towers are topped by birds that look ready to lift off.

If you peek inside the various topiary structures, you'll see that they often get support in their old age. The unnatural forms can put a lot of weight on the branches of the evergreens, so staking is necessary.

It's not all seriousness in the topiary garden. This charming duck sits front and center.

Inspired to try out a topiary form of your own? Perhaps you would like to start with a simple, modern hedge and a few pom-poms.

Or maybe you want to go with a looser arrangement to spice up the dining room.

Whichever style you choose, remember that topiary is an art form that takes dedication and time. You will be shaping your plant for years, and the upkeep is continual. If you have the time and inclination, though, a topiary garden can be a beautiful thing to behold.