Ivy topiaries are unmatched for providing your patio or other outdoor living space with a sense of restrained elegance and sophistication. Relatively uncomplicated for do-it-yourself enthusiasts to create, and readily available for purchase by anyone else, topiaries – made by training potted English ivy onto a wire frame bent into a specific shape – can be designed to complement any garden or interior style.
English ivy (Hedera helix) is a twining evergreen shrub hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. Preferring partial to full shade to maintain its climbing habit, young plants send out shoots, or tendrils, which wind their way toward any light source. It is these tendrils that make English ivy so adaptable to taking on the shape of any structure it is trained on. The popularity of topiary art has spurred the availability of wire frames in many shapes – from classical geometrics to whimsical flights of fancy.
Traditional topiary shapes include the globe, which is simply a spherical shape set directly onto the pot, the lollipop, which is a globe shape set high on a single stem, and the obelisk. These shapes are often combined to add interest and variety. For example, a globe shape can have a lollipop form growing out of it, or the lollipop itself can be composed of double globes. Traditional shapes fit in well with more formal landscape and patio design, but can also serve to rein in a less restrained decorative scheme.
More creative shapes for wire topiary frames have evolved from these geometric shapes to include wreathes -- circular, square or heart-shape – and spirals. These transitional designs are still easy to create, due to their relatively straightforward lines, but provide a slightly less conservative look while still coordinating with more traditional garden styles.
Flights of Fancy
At the other end of the decorative spectrum are shapes, primarily three-dimensional, that borrow from the animal world or from anything else in the designer’s imagination. Entire topiary zoos, comprising ivy-covered elephants, tigers and giraffes, have been created, as well as representations of any profession, hobby or interest. Development of these eclectic, sometimes eccentric forms are best left to those with some experience in the craft, but luckily, custom topiary artists are becoming more common.
- The Ivy Book; Suzanne Warner Peirot
- Floridata:Hedera Helix
- Southern Living: Plant Potted Topiaries for Winter
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images