SPRING IS THE TIME TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE A TOPIARY
Spending a Winter afternoon learning how to make a topiary from Moss, Ivy, Lemon Verbena or Boxwood? What a lovely way to usher in Spring!
WE’LL START WITH MY BELOVED MOSS
Let’s get mossy! I am a lover of moss. All varieties, textures and colors, I don’t play favorites. Well, actually I am really rather fond of reindeer moss, which is harder to find than most others around here.
So I always keep my eyes peeled when walking April, our Boston Terrier. City folk carry “do-do” bags, I carry a “moss” basket. What can I say, I can be a little obsessive that way.
We live on top of a mountain in Western North Carolina that gets lots of rain, thus it encourages moss… lots of it. Now, at first blush that might sound glorious. And I do go foraging all the time. But when it insists on growing right on your driveway too, that’s just a bit much. Don’t you think? Although most of it is a really bright green, tiny leafed variety… SCRAPE. SCRAPE. SCRAPE.
HOW TO MAKE AN ANIMAL TOPIARY
I love seeing clever animal topiary in parks and gardens where designers work their green-thumb magic. Topiaries can add personality to any surrounding, whether in a formal garden setting, outdoor living space or as home decor.
For the most part, animal topiary are made to be displayed outdoors, as opposed to a floral topiary of artificial plants. From formal English gardens to whimsical Alice in Wonderland characters, there is no limit on what can be made into a topiary.
See what I’m talking about? Check out “Pegasis”, who watches over this tranquil city park. You can make literally any shape into a topiary with the right choice of frame and plants.
Of course, large outdoor topiary use live shrubs and plants like boxwood, Japanese holly and the perennial favorite, ivy vines.
On a smaller scale, there are many herbs that can create beautiful and functional animal topiaries too.
- Lemon Verbena
- Sweet Bay
As you can see, any herb with a woody stem is well suited to form into beautifully fragrant topiary.
THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR OUTDOOR TOPIARY
- Choose plants that have dense foliage and woody stems
- What textures best represent the animal you’re making? Fur, feathers, smooth, fluffy? Try to choose plants that will accentuate the animal’s natural characteristics.
- Pick a scale of plant leaves that work best for your frame size. Smaller leafed varieties are best suited for small pieces, the idea being to compliment, not overwhelm the animal form.
- Depending on the finished size, it will need to be protected or moved to an unheated garage during the winter months. (water it well before the first frost hits your area, and water once a month if in an enclosed environment like the garage)
- Something to consider: If you want a “permanent” placement, you might consider growing a shrub (boxwood type) and placing a frame over it. The bush will actually “grow into” the frame. Obviously, this is a “long-term” garden project!
DISCOUNTED DEER? I’ll take two, thanks!
At the end of the Summer last year I scored two deer topiary frames from the Wind and Weather catalog. And, with free shipping, both ended up costing me $20. total.
We have tons of deer roaming the “neighborhood”, so I thought I’d give them some cute companions. (hopefully they won’t nibble their friend’s ears, they eat everything else in my garden!)
Since it’s the middle of Winter here in WNC, making my “outdoor” topiary needed to become an “indoor” activity. (it was sunny, but 10 degrees outside)
HOW TO MAKE A TOPIARY ANIMAL WITH MOSS
The supply list is short, but sweet:
- Topiary metal frame (metal is mandatory for outdoor decor)
- Sphagnum moss for stuffing frame
- Plant(s) of your choice, the example is done in moss
- Green floral wire or fishing line
- Wire cutters
- Bucket of warm water
- Plastic ground cover (if working indoors)
- YOUR FAVORITE PODCAST!
YA GOTTA STUFF IT, YOUR FRAME THAT IS!
Most animal topiary frames will not actually be empty. Inside the deer frame pictured here, you’ll see small hollow wire balls filling the frame.
The balls provide additional structure and allow you to “stuff” the frame before covering with your favorite plant or moss.
Wire balls also help make the finished topiary much lighter, but any topiary frame must be completely filled to provide stability and fullness to the piece.
STEPS TO MAKING AN ANIMAL TOPIARY:
- Fill a large plastic bucket half full of warm water. Place sphagnum moss into the tub, totally immersing in the water.
- Let the moss soak for 1-6 hours, until completely moistened
- Add water as needed to keep the moss fully submerged
- Place the animal frame on a flat surface (use plastic drop cloth if indoors)
- Grab a handful of moss, squeeze to release the excess moisture and start “stuffing” the moss through the frame’s openings NEAR THE BOTTOM.
- Repeat the stuffing process to fill all the interior of the frame, working from the bottom to the top
- Rotate the frame to ensure even filling. Pack the moss in very tightly, until it bulges from the frame and covers most of the wires.
- With floral wire or fishing line, tie a knot at the end around one of the wires at the bottom of your frame.
- Wrap the wire around the frame in a spiral pattern, spacing about 3/4 apart.
- Continue wrapping the wire around the entire frame’s shape
- Tie the fishing line or wire to the top of the metal frame when finished.
- Cut the line with scissors, leaving a 1-inch length
- Tuck the excess wire/line behind the frame and into the moss
- If you’re covering the moss with ivy or herbs, poke holes into the moss with a dowel. Tuck small plantings into the moss, evenly spacing to allow for growth and spreading.
- Give your finished topiary a good watering 24 hours after it’s finished. Water regularly.
- VOILA! You’ve just made an animal topiary!
I’M A FRANCOPHILE! I love all things French!
Hence my obsession with following one of my favorite blogs, Petitehaus.com.
Angelina is such a talented gal when it comes to interior design, antiques and decorating. She’s also a Francophile!
So, since moving to our new home, I’ve been slowly transforming our mountain cabin into our own “French Country” hideaway. But, it’s an ongoing process, as the house also needs some renovation work before it’s how we want it.
I want to share one of Angelina’s posts with you today. It’s jam packed with lots of incredible images to help inspire your own indoor and outdoor topiaries. I hope you enjoy Angelina’s Petite Haus site as much as I do.
YOU STILL WANT MORE?
Isn’t Pinterest fabulous? Whenever you want some inspiration, ideas, or are ready to purchase something, Pinterest can be your best friend!
I wanted to share a blog post from Relax Woman I found on Pinterest. It really gives you so much information that you’ll be ready to design your own topiary by the time you’ve finished reading! Read and be inspired to action!
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO WITH MARVELOUS MOSS?
In fair warning, I did mention my love of moss earlier, didn’t I? So you can imagine with my stockpiles of mosses, bark, twigs and such, I would try to use them too, right. You bet!
Check out my Fairies in the Forest Soiree posts to see how I used lots of moss. It appears in both the party decor and my guest’s take-home favors.
Here’s some of the fun things you can make with moss, both for your home, or when you throw a fabulous party.
HAVE I INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE A TOPIARY (or 2) FOR YOUR SPRING TABLE?
Now you know how to make any type of topiary. And, there’s lots of inspirational images in magazines, catalogs and on the internet these day that can give us a “light bulb” moment. Why not let your imagination and creativity soar and make some fabulous topiary for your home this Spring? Go get your car keys and drive yourself to your local craft store or garden center. Just start roaming the aisles. Inspiration awaits.
Now that I’ve got my 2 deer ready to head into the garden in a few months, I’m starting to think about my front entrance…
SHOW US WHAT YOU MADE!
The gang over at THE FAB LIFE Facebook Group would love to see your creativity in action! How about posting some pics of your topiary or Spring decor creations? We’re on a “NEED TO SEE” basis there gals!
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