A Topiary Tale

 My friend Gay and I embarked on a new project this week.  I had seen this wonderful idea in my Fine Gardening magazine, and we both thought it looked wonderful, so we decided we would try it.

Here is the magazine article from whence the idea came:

 Nice, huh?

So, we went shopping at our local home and garden store, and came home with our materials:


The wire forms were originally hanging flower basket forms that I had bought for 50 cents each at her yard sale.  However, I wasn't happy with how they were looking in my yard, so we decided to repurpose them.  The rest of the plants and other materials we bought at Lowe's, the pots we got 70% off at Joann's, and the Diet Dr. Pepper she already had at her house.

The first step was to fill the plants with sand or gravel.  We bought a bag of sand, but it wasn't enough to fill both pots, so we decided to supplement with some (unused) cat litter:

The next step was to wrap the wire forms with chicken wire.  The was a very laborious, not to mention injurious process.  Although I'm not sure "injurious" is a word.  In other words, it was scratchy.

Here is my wire-wrapped form.  And there is more Diet Dr. Pepper in the background.  (I think it's funny how my DDP is in almost every shot.  It's as if it's up for an award in the Supporting Actor in Home Project Blog Tutorial category.)

The next step was to stuff the form full of sphagnum moss.  If you ever attempt this project, you will want to follow the directions on the moss bag and spritz it with water before you pull it out of the bag.  Otherwise you just have a little sphagnum moss tornado flying everywhere, with little to place where you actually want it.

Here are the twin stuffed forms.

Here is mine alone, because it just looks so different from Gay's. 

The next step was to take the little succulent plants and stick them in all over the topiary.  This unfortunately proved to be a rather violent process for the  plants.  Many of them lost their fleshy little succulent leaves while being pushed into the form.  It became quickly quite hard to believe that any of them would survive the process at all.

However, we got them all in there. 

Unfortunately, our topiaries don't quite look like the one from the article.  If you scan up to the article picture again, you will see that their topiary is lush and full of little plants.  In fact, that stuff that looks like pine branches is actually many, many little succulent plants pushed into the form. 

Needless to say, their topiary is at least a $200 topiary.  Mine is a $50 topiary, and that includes the pot. 

While a bargain is a wonderful thing, a bargain topiary is something more like a topiary having a bad hair day:

However, there is hope.  After gazing sadly at my creation for a little while, I hopped on the Internet and searched how to propagate succulents.  In my search I learned that this is a (reportedly) very easy process.  You just take a single branch or leaf of your succulent plant, and then you let it callous over by drying out for a day or two.  Then you place it gently on a pot of potting medium, and voila!  It sprouts roots and turns into its own little plant. 

So my plan is to take all the little leaves and plants that were collateral damage from the creation process and make more plants with them.  Then my topiary can be lush and full, too.  It might take the next ten years, but that's okay.
Here are some of the fallout leaves and branches as they are recovering and callousing:

Once again, I'll let you know how it goes.

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