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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

Periwinkle - Vinca minor

Periwinkle is a perennial vine and is a low-growing, evergreen ground cover plant with glossy green leaves and small, violet-blue flowers, often used to fill in garden spaces and control erosion. Incorporating it into landscaping offers many benefits that give 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 provides lush ground cover One of the primary advantages of using it in landscaping is its ability to create lush ground cover. Its dense and spreading growth habit forms a carpet of glossy green leaves that covers the soil, adding a touch of vibrancy and texture to the garden. This lush ground cover serves as a backdrop for other plants, helping to unify the landscape and provide a cohesive look. The adaptability of it enhances its value in landscaping. It can thrive in full sun and shade, making it suitable for various garden conditions. This adaptability allows for versatile placement within the landscape, whether in shaded areas where other plants might struggle or in sunny spots where ground cover is desired. It also serves a functional role in erosion control. Its dense mat of roots helps stabilize soil on slopes, preventing erosion and runoff. This erosion control capability is precious in areas prone to soil erosion, where it can effectively anchor the soil and protect the landscape from the damaging effects of water movement. The low-maintenance care it requires makes it a practical choice for landscapers. Once established, it requires minimal intervention, making it an excellent option for gardeners seeking a hassle-free ground cover. Its resilience against pests and diseases further contributes to its ease of care and long-term beauty. The delicate flowers of it add a soft elegance to landscaping designs. Depending on the variety, the plant produces small, five-petaled flowers in shades of blue, purple, or white. These dainty blooms provide a touch of color and charm that can be used to infuse a sense of delicacy and grace into garden settings. In conclusion, the periwinkle offers a range of benefits when used in landscaping projects. Its lush ground cover, adaptability, erosion control capabilities, low-maintenance care, and soft elegance make it a valuable asset in outdoor spaces. By thoughtfully incorporating it into landscape designs, one can create visually appealing, functional, and easily managed gardens that enrich the outdoor experience and provide a harmonious backdrop for other plantings. Get your Periwinkle from TN Nursery Periwinkle, or Vinca minor, is a charming and evergreen groundcover plant that graces gardens and landscapes with its delicate beauty. This perennial herb is celebrated for its ornamental qualities, forming lush carpets of verdant foliage and dainty, trumpet-shaped flowers. Periwinkle Has Beautiful Blue/Purple Flowers Characterized by its glossy, elliptical leaves, its dense, trailing growth habit forms a verdant tapestry across the ground. The leaves, typically a rich, dark green, provide a lush backdrop for the star attraction – the flowers. These blooms appear in spring and early summer, adding color to any garden. Its flowers come in shades of lavender, violet, and occasionally white, adorning the plant with their five-petaled elegance. The petals are marked with darker veining, creating a captivating pattern that adds to their allure. Its charm lies not only in its blossoms but also in its adaptability. It thrives in various conditions, from sun to shade, making it a universal option for gardeners. Its low-maintenance nature is a boon, as it requires minimal care once established. This plant is an excellent choice for erosion control, as its mat-like growth stabilizes soil on slopes and beneath trees. Periwinkle Is The Best Ground-Cover Gardeners and landscapers often use it to create visually appealing borders, cover barren patches, or enhance the aesthetic appeal of pathways. Its elegance and adaptability make it an enduring favorite in formal and informal garden designs. Periwinkle's unassuming charm and graceful presence have made it a beloved addition to gardens worldwide. Its resilience and ability to thrive in various conditions and its vibrant blooms make it a delightful choice for those wanting to add natural beauty to their outdoor spaces. Whether as a ground cover, an accent plant, or a border filler, its enduring allure is a testament to its timeless appeal.

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English Ivy

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. One of the primary benefits of incorporating it into landscaping is its ability to create a lush and green backdrop. English Ivy's dense and glossy foliage forms an attractive, cascading cover that can soften the appearance of walls, fences, and other vertical surfaces. Its vigorous growth and climbing ability make it an excellent choice for adding greenery to structures and creating a natural screen for enhanced privacy in outdoor spaces. It is highly adaptable and can thrive in various conditions. It can tolerate shade, making it suitable for areas with limited sunlight and capable of growing in full sun. Additionally, this vine can withstand various soil types and different moisture levels, making it a versatile choice for diverse landscaping environments. It also offers practical benefits for landscaping purposes. Its dense growth serves as an adequate ground cover, helping to control soil erosion on slopes and stabilizing embankments. Its ability to spread rapidly makes it an efficient weed suppressor, reducing the need for extensive weeding in garden beds. Besides its aesthetic and practical advantages, it can create a peaceful and earthy atmosphere in gardens and outdoor spaces. It stops soil erosion and puts a blanket on the ground. Its presence can add a touch of nature and greenery to urban areas, contributing to a sense of connection with the natural world. In conclusion, it offers numerous benefits when used in landscaping. Its lush foliage, adaptability to different conditions, practical applications as a ground cover and privacy screen, and contribution to a calming atmosphere make it a valuable addition to various garden designs. Get your English Ivy at TN Nursery today! English Ivy, scientifically known as Hedera helix, is a captivating and versatile plant with an intriguing history and a wealth of aesthetic and ecological benefits. This evergreen climber, native to Europe and Western Asia, has been cherished for centuries for its lush and verdant foliage, which graces gardens, walls, and landscapes with an unmistakable charm. Characterized by its glossy, dark green leaves, it is renowned for its ability to cascade gracefully or climb vertically, adorning structures with an enchanting green tapestry. Its heart-shaped leaves are often deeply lobed and exhibit a waxy texture, making them resistant to harsh weather conditions. In contrast, the plant's young shoots display a more delicate, bright green hue that adds a touch of vibrancy to any setting. English Ivy Has Been Known For Hundreds Of Years It has long been associated with symbolism and tradition. In ancient times, it was revered as a symbol of fidelity and friendship, and its presence was believed to protect against evil spirits. Today, it is often used to convey feelings of attachment and affection when given as a gift. Beyond its ornamental allure, it plays a vital role in supporting wildlife. Additionally, its dense foliage provides bird shelter and nesting sites, making it an essential component of various ecosystems. English Ivy Is Very Hardy Cultivating it is relatively straightforward, making it a favorite choice for novice and experienced gardeners. Its adaptability allows it to thrive in various conditions, from full shade to partial sunlight. As it grows, it forms a thick, insulating cover that regulates temperature and reduces noise pollution, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere. In conclusion, English Ivy is a plant transcending time and trends. With its rich history, timeless beauty, and ecological significance, it captivates the hearts of those who appreciate its enduring appeal. It remains a beloved and cherished plant for many, whether as a symbol of tradition, a contributor to biodiversity, or a picturesque addition to a garden.

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