November 27, 2016
Ivy Topiaries & Winter Container Gardens
During the holidays, we love to decorate with ribbons and bows, lights, ornaments, trees and plants. If you are looking for a formal yet whimsical idea or gift this year, why not try an ivy topiary for your home?
Historically, the craft of topiary–creating a living sculpture–found its origins in ancient Roman times using the cypress tree. In the times following, it would go in and out of fashion until it became very popular in Victorian England. It was then brought to North America, specifically Williamsburg, Virginia in 1690. In the1950s and 1960s, as houseplants became popular, the craft moved indoors.
Ivy topiaries are usually made from English Ivy (Hedera helix). The ivy vine is grown around a wire topiary frame. The frame adds the support and trains the ivy into a desired shape.
Ivy topiaries prefer bright, filtered light with daytime temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees. Nighttime temperatures should not dip below 32 degrees. Water your plant when it feels dry, down to the first inch of soil. Water directly into the soil, close to the plant base. Do not let your plant sit in water. Misting the leaves once or twice a week, with lukewarm water in the morning (to allow the plant to dry out by nightfall) is helpful to create humidity. The plant can be fertilized every 4–6 weeks, taking the winter off, and again picking up with fertilizing in the spring. As the plant grows, tuck and weave any loose growing stems around the topiary frame, filling in any thin spots. Trim the stems emerging from the top and bottom of the form.
Finally, don’t forget to decorate your topiary! During the holidays, we bring ivy topiaries into our greenhouse in shapes of globes, spirals, cones, trees, teddy bears, and sometimes even elephants. We decorate the topiaries with ribbons, birds, berries and Christmas balls in whites, golds, and reds, finishing with a festive holiday pot. With proper care your ivy topiary should last for years. You can change out the decorations seasonally or to suit your room or mood with ease.
And don’t forget, your outside containers can look beautiful throughout the winter!
After the colorful fall season, don’t be left with an empty container or urn sitting by your front door, waiting for spring. Simply add greens to those containers and now you’ve created a beautiful and magical winter look, one your family and friends can enjoy over the holidays.
At Bucks Country Gardens, we plant a mix of evergreen boughs of white pine, frasier fir, incense cedar, port orford cedar, douglas fir, and juniper in soil. We vary the lengths and textures of the boughs to create a full and inviting design. Boxwood and/or holly can be added to the arrangement, though they are rather short lived. Winterberry and white birch twigs can be added for color. Other options include artificial berries, Christmas ornaments, glittered branches, bows, pinecones and birds. We plant up these greens in two different sized plastic containers that can stand alone or fit right into your empty pot sitting by that front door. We also have filler plastic pots that fit nicely into most urns, as well as hanging baskets. If you have a unique sized container and would like that planted, we can do that, too. We ask that you have any custom requests in by the 3rd week in November to ensure receiving them in early December.
If you are preparing your own container, consider planting spring blubs in your container first. Plant the bulbs to the depth suggested on your package. Place them close together, but not on top of each other, and add a little bulb food. Cover them over with soil and then begin planting your greens. I tried this last year with daffodils. In March, when I pulled my greens out—which were still alive—I had daffodils coming up. They did nicely to add height in my container. To complete the spring look, I added pansies between them. I’ll be repeating that this year, maybe with a mixture of daffodils and tulips, so that my container changes as easy as the season.
Whether you have a Bucks Country Gardens created greens planter or a magnificent creation all of your own, water your planter as needed until the soil freezes and then enjoy it throughout the winter and into the spring.
When friends and family visit, I guarantee they will enjoy that magical winter creation sitting by your front door.
Marilyn Fanning | Greenhouse Sales & Design