A Beginner’s Guide To Topiary | TN Nursery

If you ask anyone, most first impressions of topiaries would be a sprawling maze garden within a castle or a manor. But while true, one can find topiaries even in a suburban neighborhood or mini-sculptures in urban parks. Topiaries have become trending once more due to the variety of forms and figures they offer, ranging from classically geometrical to whimsical and out-of-this-world. Because of the cost and the delicate, elaborate, and time-consuming process, it is no wonder that topiaries are usually associated with wealthy, urban environments. But of course, where is gardening fun without the challenge of having your own miniature version of a topiary?



Topiary is the practice of clipping the foliage and twigs of perennial trees and shrubs to define geometric or elaborately sculpted shapes. Topiary gardening goes back to the first century when a friend of Roman emperor Augustus invented it. Gardeners practiced it onward as it evolved into pruning, training, and trimming of the foliage. As of now, Levens Hall in Cumbria, England, is the world's oldest still-standing topiary garden, dating back to 1694 during the reign of King James II. Originally planned and laid out by 17th-century gardener Guillaume Beaumont, Levens boasts around a hundred topiary pieces. Topiary was revived in English gardening around the 1840s, paralleling the "Jacobethan" architectural style; the topiary trend exploded all over England with inspiration from the Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire, when it opened for public viewing in the 1850s. The topiary mania would soon continue to grow by the century, even as Walt Disney introduced portable-style topiary to Disneyland around 1962.

Traditional topiary usually acts as the main focus in a garden setting. You can also use topiary to highlight other features, like the base of a wooden pergola or a water fountain. You can design topiaries in a border setting as half standards placed at intervals throughout the length of a gardening scheme to add permanent height and structure, further enhancing the naturalized planting. If one wants to add aesthetic interest to a plain-looking area, classic figures such as cones, balls, or even spirals can work as bold punctuation points at the corners of a scheme. Even a traditional pathway can work as an eye-catcher and focal point for the front entrance of a property, so as long as one uses a matching pair of specimens.

The only catch, if you are into topiary gardening, would not just be the expensive cost. Topiaries, especially with plants like boxwood, are not in any way maintenance-free plants—if left unattended for a considerable amount of time, they would grow out of their pruned shape and revert to their natural growth form. Topiaries tend to be expensive to purchase. They require labor and a generously long time to develop; on top of that, the expense comes from the annual maintenance that one must perform to keep its appearance from the nursery.


But if you intend to have your green-thumb sculptures, several sturdier alternatives are not as high-maintenance and expensive. For starters, inkberry holly is evergreen and has similar growth habits, leaves, and shaping ability. However, it has a faster growth rate than boxwood and is not susceptible to fungal blights. They prefer an acidic and moist site to boxwoods. If you are more into coniferous plants, then the Eastern Arborvitae has low maintenance, and its growth habit is upright and columnar. Juniper is one of the more prevalent alternatives for boxwood, and it can grow anywhere from six to twenty-five feet tall. Some other honorable mentions go to blueberry bushes, the common ninebark, rhododendron, mosses, or a hedge of "knockout roses."

Being your topiary gardener is one of the best alternatives, too, as it can save you several hundred dollars, give you a reason to learn work ethics, and give you a gardening focal point. Topiaries have varieties, such as vine topiaries or shrub topiaries, and it would do well to choose wisely on what kind of garden display you would like to put up. The first thing you should consider is selecting a topiary's form, as this is a crucial decision on whether you want something like climbing vines to crawl up the form to cover the shape. You can also use shrubs if you're going to be practical. Next, you will have to choose a vining plant or shrub. Some starting choices for a vining plant topiary are the English, periwinkle, or Boston ivy. However, most people choose English ivy for its fast growth and hardiness in various climate conditions. For shrubs, you can use a small, juvenile shrub that easily molds as it grows. The third step—filling the form with sphagnum moss—is optional, though it helps your topiary take on a fuller shape. Shrubs, in this case, do not require a frame or filling up with moss. For the fourth step, you can start by carefully planting the vine around the form; in the case of the shrub, you have to keep it slow and steady, and forming your shape, you should trim off no more than three inches of foliage at most. Pruning, in this case, will encourage a more prominent and bushier growth, especially for larger shrubs. And for the rest of the process, you must continue to maintain the patient routine of adequately trimming and pruning your foliage until such time that you can be able to yield the ideal results.

Though training your plant may seem difficult at first, it is an excellent opportunity for a hands-on course and to understand how a plant may respond to your treatment of it—some may respond quite well, while others may respond poorly. Topiaries require a commitment to art, and growing one is certainly not an easy task, so how much more for an entire lawn? Seeing as they are fun additions that can be only limited to your imagination with however you want them, they require a fair amount of maintenance to develop them to their full potential.

Periwinkle - Vinca minor - TN Nursery

Periwinkle Plant

Periwinkle is a perennial vine and a low-growing, evergreen ground cover plant with glossy green leaves and small, violet-blue flowers. It is often used to fill in garden spaces and control erosion. Incorporating it into landscaping offers many benefits that add beauty and functionality to outdoor spaces. This versatile ground cover brings lushness, adaptability, erosion control, low-maintenance care, and soft elegance to garden settings. Periwinkle - Vinca minor is famous for its blue flowers, and this flower is an excellent groundcover. Unlike some groundcovers, it proliferates without becoming invasive. Because of this, many home gardeners and landscape designers like to add this cheery flower to their landscape. Periwinkle Plant Has Many Names It initially originated in central and southern Europe. Classified as a part of the dogbane family, this flower quickly spread to the Baltic States, the Netherlands, and the Caucasus. Today, it is grown around the world as a groundcover. Sometimes, people may refer to this groundcover by other common names, like creeping myrtle or myrtle. Periwinkle Plant Helps With Soil Erosion  Periwinkle Plant is truly a gardener’s delight. Its strong roots help to control soil erosion, and its trailing vines are full of glossy leaves. Because deer don’t usually like it, you don’t have to worry about it disappearing. Plus, it can handle some foot traffic, so it doesn’t get trampled easily. Because it is considered an evergreen, it will keep its glossy, green leaves in the winter. After you plant it, the vines will gradually spread over neighboring areas. While it mainly grows along the ground, this vine can sometimes get up to 16 inches tall. Unlike other vines, it never climbs or twines around trees or walls. Instead, you can enjoy having it as a permanent ground cover in your garden. The Periwinkle Plant Flowers Are Sure to Impress The most notable part of this vine is its flowers. They are typically created between early spring and the middle of summer. Sometimes, you will still notice a few flowers in autumn. All of the flowers have a violet-purple shade and a five-lobed corolla. On some species, you can even find white and pale purple flowers. With Periwinkle Plant, you will have an evergreen mat in your garden beds throughout the year. The flowers remain for many of spring and summer so that you can appreciate bright blue pops. Thanks to its rapid growth, you don’t have to wait long to see this lovely vine fill empty areas in your yard.

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English Ivy - TN Nursery

English Ivy

English Ivy is a low-growing ground cover plant; it has glossy, heart-shaped leaves and produces small, inconspicuous brownish-purple flowers nestled among its dense, carpet-like foliage. It is a fantastic and versatile plant with several landscaping benefits. This evergreen vine is native to Europe and Western Asia and is widely embraced for its aesthetic appeal, adaptability, and practical applications. English Ivy is a woody evergreen perennial vine and foliage plant proliferating on vertical surfaces like trees, walls, fences, and trellises. The ancient Greeks believed the plant was sacred to the god Dionysus, and pagan druids revered it as a symbol of the divine feminine. In classical Latin, “hedera” refers to the ability to grasp, which is in keeping with the vine’s nature. English Ivy Loves Shade Native to Europe, Scandinavia, and parts of Russia, the Hedera helix is nearly ubiquitous in Britain and is naturalized and prolific in many regions of the United States. In the wild, the plant grows under, on trees, and up the sides of rocky cliffs, favoring moist, shady areas out of the sun. Mature Hedera helix vines typically grow up to 80 feet tall and span a three- to five-foot width. Their climbing stems bear young, five-lobed leaves, while their fertile stems bear adult, spade-shaped leaves. These deep-green leaves can vary in size between two and four inches long. The top of the plant will often develop clusters of small, greenish-yellow flowers that bloom from late summer until late autumn. These nectar-rich blossoms will eventually yield a crop of small purple-black to orange-yellow berries that persist into winter. English Ivy Kills Weeds Its bright green foliage can add all-season color to any landscape and beautify forlorn spaces. Its vines can be trained to climb many stable vertical surfaces or grown as a ground cover to suppress weeds. Since Hedera helix proliferates, it can make a good screen on a fence or trellis. When carefully grown on exterior building walls, it can protect their surfaces from exposure to bad weather and help regulate the temperature. Within the United States, Hedera helix can provide food and habitat for wildlife. Butterflies and moths eat their leaves, bees feed on their flowers’ nectar, and birds eat their berries in winter. The foliage often shelters insects and small animals and sometimes attracts nearby deer. English Ivy Is An Evergreen Hedera helix is a beautiful evergreen vine with a rich history. When you plant it in your garden, you can enjoy its charming English ivy character all year.

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