Owl Topiary

Owl-Topiary

I was pretty excited to get started on this owl topiary but now that it’s finished I don’t like it. It doesn’t help either that for some reason getting the photos to my computer and then uploaded to here did not go as usual.

When I’m working with pictures, I usually change all of my file names to more descriptive titles before uploading. I may even include their order in the file name. Unfortunately each time I attempt to do any of that, my computer freezes up, so here we are. I’ll attempt to make the best of it but this won’t be a proper tutorial.

Circle of wire and beginning of body

For the base of the owl, I made a circle of wire about 7″ across. From there I attached two somewhat egg-shaped pieces of wire, crossed at the center. You can see I twisted them together and then wrapped it with finer wire to secure them. These are then attached to the base with all wire ends facing into the body of the owl.

Forming owl beak and ear tufts

This next piece of wire forms the beak and ear tufts.

completed frame for owl topiary

Before wrapping the frame in mesh, I added a third wire to support the center of the beak. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I do know it made planting in that area tricky.

attaching mesh to base of owl topiary form

The chicken wire is formed into a tube again, and the bottom edge securely attached to the base of the owl form.

Wire mesh over owl form

I’ve mentioned shaping the chicken wire in other posts. It’s surprisingly easy. If you compress the hexagons of the mesh one way, they get longer the other way. So when I want the ‘belly’ of the owl larger than the base, I shorten the hexagons and it gets wider. At the top of the owl’s head the mesh gets overlapped and wired close.

squeeze extra water from moss and fill frame

From there I started stuffing the owl. Squeeze out the moss as much as possible, and fill the owl topiary. The ear tufts took special attention to make sure they were completely filled. The entire owl took a surprising amount of moss to fill – it needs to be firmly packed in because it seems to shrink as it dries.

Planting the Owl Topiary

Until this point, I was pleased with my owl. It looked like an owl and more important, it looked like the picture in my head. Then I started planting it.

two large rosette shaped succulents for eyes

I’ve had these two rosettes set aside for a while. All along I knew they were going to be my owls eyes.

Tufts added and belly planted

I used florist wire to secure the plants, they can be taken out once everything roots into the moss.

planted owl topiary take one

At this point, I left the owl over night. Sometimes ideas need to simmer.

planted owl topiary take two

Eventually I added more Sempervivum (hens & chicks), thinking that would improve the look of the owl.

It did not.

I’m going to set him in a sunny window for now, we’ll see if time and plants growing improves him a bit but I honestly prefer the look of the mini turtle from last week.

What do you think? Which is your favorite?

 

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Topiary Mini Turtle – Tutorial

Topiary Mini Turtle

I decided it was time for a topiary mini turtle. Fred, my other turtle, is adorable, but just a little to big for the house. And what better project to launch my new craft space? Let me tell you, having a designated spot to work on my projects is a dream! I was able to take my time with this little guy, knowing I wouldn’t have to tidy up part way through so I could use my kitchen table as a table.

If you’re reading this, I hope you won’t think making topiary is hard. It’s mainly just twisting wire, and anyone can do that! That said, just a couple of cautions. Chicken wire is stabby, in fact all wire is. When you are forming your topiary, twist all of your sharp ends towards the inside where the moss will cover them. Be sure to clean up all the little bits of wire after, nobody enjoys pulling a piece of wire out of their foot. Never place your finished topiary directly on furnishing. His feet are scratchy, sometimes they’re wet too.

Mini Turtle – what you’ll need.

  • Snips, Pliers and wire cutters. I’ve been using my snips to cut the wire, they are easier to use and less flying bits to worry about.
  • A basin or pail of water to soak your moss.
  • Chicken wire.
  • Galvanized wire in a heavy enough gauge to hold its shape but still bend.
  • Florist wire.
  • Sphagnum moss. I’ve been using natural, but green will work too.
  • Plants. I used succulents again, but I would love to make one of these and use mini Hosta. Ivy would work too.

Let’s get started!

Place your moss in a bucket of water to soak.

For the shell:

From the heavier wire, cut a piece long enough to make a circle 7″ across with a bit of overlap. This will be the rim of your turtle’s shell.

Fold back each end to make a hook, join together and twist tightly.

To make the dome of the shell, you will need 3 half circles of the heavier wire. Form a hook in each end.

Use the hook to attach the half circle to your rim.

Repeat with the other two, arranging them around your rim so they intersect.

Where the wires of the shell intersect, tie them with some florist wire.

Lay a double layer of chicken wire over your frame. I used an inverted bowl to avoid flattening my shell.

I’ve done this two ways before, you can either fill the shell with moss and fold over the wire to hold it in, or you can attach the mesh to the rim and use a second piece to hold your moss in. I get a tidier look with the second method, so trim away your excess.

Fill the bowl of the shell with moss, squeezing out the water as you go. Use another piece of chicken wire to shape a lid – the belly of your shell.

Use florist wire to ‘sew’ everything together.

For the head, tail and feet:

To make the head and neck, make a tube from chicken wire and close on end.

Test it against your turtle and adjust until you are happy with how it looks.

Fill the head with moss and set aside.

Shape and fill the tail. Everything is just chicken wire tubes with one end closed.

Shape the 4 feet. Stuff them firmly with the moss so they don’t collapse with the weight of the turtle. When you are positioning the feet, imagine the head is 12 o’clock, the tail pointing at 6. The front feet are at 10:30 and 1:30. The back feet are 5 & 6. Use florist wire to firmly attach the feet.

For the head, I like to have more than the chicken wire to attach it too. Here I chose a spot where the frame of the shell crosses.

Attach the tail and the head with more florist wire. Make sure the head is well secured and not wobbly.

Your topiary frame is complete!

Planting your topiary.

I learned my lesson planting my bunny topiary. These small guys look best with just a few plants.

After removing as much of the soil as possible without damaging the roots, work out a pleasing arrangement.

I used snips to remove a small section of the chicken wire so it would be easier to plant.

Use your fingers to make a hole in the moss.

As you plant, use your fingers or a pencil to push the roots into the moss.

Sticking with my less is more mantra, this is my turtle finished.

Photo shoot!

One of the best parts about my new crafting space is the lighting for pictures is so much better!

The two clamp on lights of the shelf above with the LED floods are perfect for getting well-lit pictures in my house.

The greenery underneath is fake boxwood ’tiles’ from the dollar store! Perfect for a mini turtle’s d├ębut!

If you enjoyed this project, please share it on Pinterest. Let me know in the comments if you make or plan to make one of your own!

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Topiary Bunny Tutorial

Despite the nice weather we’ve had lately, it’s still to early for gardening. So to satisfy my urge to play in the dirt, I made a topiary bunny. And yes, there are succulents. He’s smaller than Fred so he can stay indoors in the winter.

Topiary Bunny supplies:

  • A bunch of succulents. Even this little bunny took a lot of succulents. Choose mostly the flatter rosette forms.
  • You can also use English Ivy. It’s a more traditional choice for topiary and tolerant of shady conditions. Choose smaller leaved varieties and if you place your topiary outdoors, make sure it doesn’t trail down far enough to touch soil or it will make a run for it.

  • A pot, preferably clay. Mine is an 8″ whitewashed clay bowl.
  • Chicken wire
  • Florist wire – used to ‘sew’ body parts together and to anchor newly planted succulents.
  • Heavier gauge wire – used to stabilize the topiary form where needed.
  • Side cutters. I scrubbed mine before taking this picture, I didn’t want you thinking I’m one of those jerks who might leave tools lying around outside.
  • Cactus Soil
  • Sphagnum Moss.
  • A bucket to soak the moss in.

Forming the topiary:

Soak your sphagnum in a bowl or bucket of water. Set aside.

For my 8″ bowl, I cut a piece of chicken wire about 24″ wide.

Twist the ends of the wires together to form a tube. Don’t go all the way up, just the first 6″ or so – about the height of the bunny’s chest plus the pot.

Set your chicken wire tube into the clay bowl and fill with cactus soil to about an inch below the rim. Tamp it down to secure the chicken wire tube.

Start shaping the bunny body. You finesse the chicken wire, stretching here, compressing there, and eventually its the shape of a bunny’s rump. Keep shaping the wire to make the slope of the back. If you need to, you can trim away some of the width of the chicken wire as you shrink your tube down to form the neck.

Once you start forming the neck, fill the body with the wet moss. Continue forming the neck and head.

Finish filling the bunny with moss and close up the chicken wire after trimming away your excess. My ‘seam’ runs along the top of his face.

Cut a piece of chicken wire about 4″ by 8″. Form it into a tube.

Use the florist wire to ‘sew’ the ears to the head. Flatten and shape the tubes as you fill them with moss. Had the moss been dyed, I might have left him just like this.

Thread a piece of the heavier gauge wire down each ear into the body to stabilize them. Curve the ears until you are happy with the shape.

Plant your topiary

Knock as much soil off the roots as you can. It makes it a little easier to push the roots into the topiary. Use your finger to make a hole in the moss and the work the roots in. A pencil is helpful for pushing the roots into the body of the topiary. For any plants that don’t seem secure, bend a piece of florist wire into a ‘u’ and use it to pin the plant in place.

My bunny topiary finished.

I used this cluster of frilly edged succulents as the tail.

A pink edged rosette for the nose.

Two similarly sized flat blue rosettes as eyes.

I’m not 100% happy with the cluster of hen’s and chicks on my bunny’s head. I’ll probably try to thin it out a bit so it’s less bulky looking. I also used some variegated English Ivy on my bunny, since I won’t put this one in the garden.

I highly recommend that just before closing up your bunny’s face, you form a ‘U’ shaped support as tall as your bunny from the heavier gauge wire and run it through the middle of your bunny. I did not do this and my bunny collapsed a bit with the plants.

This link – Make a Succulent Topiary – gives a more detailed tutorial on filling and planting your topiary form along with useful care tips.

So go make yourself a bunny!

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Hosta ‘Sun Power’

Hosta Sun Power

I’ve had Hosta Sun Power for a several years, but for one reason or the other, never under ideal conditions.

06-07 Corner Begonia Bed

Last spring, I divided my clump and planted it in the raised corner bed to provide a backdrop for my Santa Cruz and San Francisco begonia.

Hosta Sun Power with Begonia and Ferns

Here is the same bed a year later. You can see how rapidly Hosta Sun Power is filling the space. A mature Sun Power has a spread of up to 5 feet so one clump will fill most of the awkward to reach back corner of this bed.

Hosta 'Sun Power'

The foliage on Hosta Sun Power is high impact with its bright chartreuse to gold color and slightly rippled leaf edges.

Hosta 'Sun Power' Leaf

No margins or variegation on these leaves, Sun Power makes a showy statement without them.

Hosta 'Sun Power' Flower

Mine are in flower with pretty spikes of pale lavender or orchid colored blooms.

Hosta Sun Power at a glance:

Height:

Sun Power when mature will reach heights of 27-29 inches or 70-75 cm

Spread:

Sun Power will spread out to 47-59 inches or 120-150 cm so be sure to give it lots of space in your garden.

Vigor & Size:

Hosta ‘Sun Power’ is a large-sized hosta. It’s size, spread and gorgeous sunny color make it an excellent choice for background plantings in your garden

Foliage Color:

Large leaves are slightly twisted giving a ripple-effect to the edges. Leaf color ranges from chartreuse to bright gold, and for best color this hosta likes a bit of morning sun.

Flower Color:

Flowers are a pale orchid or lilac color on 36″ scapes.

Hosta Sun Power is perfect choice for bright sunny color in shade to part shade gardens so be sure to pin it for your wish list.

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Hosta Golden Tiara

Hosta Golden Tiara

Hosta Golden Tiara with its tidy heart-shaped leaves and compact height of just 15″ is one of my favorites in the garden.

Hosta Golden Tiara
One year old clump of Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’

The picture above is a one year old clump, it will eventually reach a spread of up to 35″ making it an excellent choice for borders. To see an example of mature Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’ used as a garden border click here.

Hosta 'Golden Tiara' leaves

Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’ has medium green leaves with chartreuse margins. When grown in sun the margins will become more gold-colored. Light purple flowers will appear mid-summer, they are darker when Golden Tiara is grown in sun.

Hosta Golden Tiara at a glance:

Height:

Golden Tiara when mature will reach heights of 12-16 inches or 30-40 cm

Spread:

Golden Tiara will spread out to 29-35 inches or 75-90 cm so be sure to give it some space in the garden.

Vigor & Size:

Hosta ‘Golden Tiara’ is a medium-sized hosta. It’s size and spread make it an excellent choice for garden borders but it is also suitable for container growing.

Foliage Color:

Heart shaped leaves have a medium green center with a narrow chartreuse edging. Edges will become more of a gold color when grown in sun.

Flower Color:

Flowers appear mid-summer on 24 inch scapes. They are lilac or light purple, but darker when grown in sunnier locations.

If Hosta Golden Tiara isn’t already a part of your shade garden it would be an excellent addition, so be sure to pin this one for your wish list.

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