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Fake a Topiary!

Topiaries are great pieces of living garden art that can add form and structure to your garden. You might think topiaries are only made by clipping shrubs into various shapes. While that is one way to make a topiary, you can also fake one by training a vine, like English ivy, to grow on a frame. It’s easier, quicker, and more affordable.

1.    1.  Buy or Create a Wire Frame

Since this step can be done indoors, you can go ahead and do it now as a winter activity. Then you will be one step ahead when summer comes.

  • Here’s just one website that sells topiary frames. The site has a range of forms, from cones and spheres to many kinds of animals. Shop around to compare prices before buying. 
  • You can build your own frame. Galvanized or copper-coated wires are two options.
  • Convert something you own into a topiary frame. Look around your shed or garage. I’ve found some small tomato cages that look like cones when flipped upside down. A couple of wire hanging baskets tied together can create a sphere. There are lots of possibilities so think creatively.

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2.  Select a Vine

A good choice is English ivy (Hedera helix), a perennial vine, that is hardy to our zone and include many different varieties. If you use a non-hardy vine, it will need to be taken inside during the winter. There are many different varieties of English ivy. Variegated forms may be less hardy. You can buy ivy, try digging some up, or propagate cuttings from your own yard.

3.  Plant Vine in Pot at Base of Frame

You’ll need a pot that is wide enough to accommodate your frame. Secure the frame to the pot if needed. Plant a few ivy plants, equally spaced, around the base of the frame. They don’t have to be right next to each other since the vines will branch and spread out.

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4.  Tie Vine to Frame as It Grows

Plastic coated twist ties or florist’s wire can be used to tie the vines to the frame. Or you can weave them through the frame. If the vine is longer than the frame, run it back down the other side. Some kinds of ivy may need their tips pinched back to promote branching.

5.  Trim As Necessary to Maintain Shape

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Have fun with this project and share topiary ideas or topiaries from your garden with us on this page!