Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Tips on French Style Topiaries

Sunday, May 10, 2015

You know the French are masters with sculpted gardens and plants, 
and topiaries appear throughout their personal gardens, 
in village parks, and along side their highways. 
Most anyone can identify a lonely stretch of a narrow straight highway 
flanked on either side with sculpted trees as a French roadway. 
There is usually a man on a bicycle carrying baguettes 
which probably helps identify the road as being in France.  

One of the easiest and fastest ways for me to add some French style
to my house is to add one or more fresh live topiaries. 
Buy it, bring it home, set in a pretty pot, and water. 
No sewing, no crafting, and not much money. 
Pretty much a somewhat laissez-faire approach to decorating. 
Another French way of doing things. 
Make it look easy even though there really is some effort required.

I've included a summary of

10 Tips for Growing a Topiary 

that will help growing topiaries much easier. 

To

Here is the pine chest once again 
that is home to an ever-changing landscape of botanicals. 

Count the topiaries in this space. 

T H R E E 

Two of the topiaries are single-ball preserved boxwoods that are not new, 
but the third topiary, the two-balled fresh live one, is new this spring. 

Just this week, there had been a live lavender plant in this spot 
that is now transplanted outside.
Before that, there had been a white foxglove that is also now outside.
All of these are French-inspired botanical touches, but for me,
topiaries convey the most French look.


A few things that I look for in a live topiary are 

1.  New growth on all of the balls to insure the plant is vigorous 
2.  A sturdy main trunk that is "plumb" when viewed from all sides 
3.  Balls on the same plant are approximately the same size 
4.  Matching sizes and shapes for topiaries that will be used in symmetry 
(at each end of a mantle, or flanking French doors, or on matching windowsills) 
5.  A plant variety that tolerates both indoor and outdoor locations 

Pruning can correct uneven growth to make the balls uniform. 
Just make sure the general sizes and shapes are fairly uniform to begin with. 
The new plant above needs a little pruning, but that is a fun and easy chore. 


Some of my favorite plant varieties for topiaries are 
ivy, boxwood, rosemary, lavender, and eugenia myrtle. 

Rosemary and lavender are so beautiful, but do not live long at my house. 
I tend to use them for Christmas knowing they will only last a few weeks. 
My best luck is with the non-blooming plants and 
even then, have a hard time keeping them alive for long periods of time.  

Last year I had pretty good luck with eugenia myrtle
in the master bath and on the garden shed deck.

Until I left them outside during the winter, and they were killed.

I failed to realize they were eugenia myrtle, not boxwood, and, as such, 
were a tropical plant that needed protection from freezing. 


Since I know the topiaries will probably not live for years, 
I get very excited to find healthy topiaries at a great price. 
I found tabletop eugenia myrtle at Walmart that cost less than $15 each 
and bought one for the pine chest and one for the kitchen highchair.  

This year these will overwinter in a sheltered place. 


These eugenia myrtle really look a lot like boxwood, but 
can be grown indoors year-round as well as 
in containers outdoors during the summer. 

The plant tag gave these helpful hints for keeping them healthy. 

1.  Part Sun:  3-6 hours of daily sun 
2.  Water when the top one inch of soil is dry 
3.  Feed every 2 weeks with an all-purpose liquid plant food 
4.  Containers should have good drainage 
5.  Rotate often for equal light distribution

I left the plants in the original plastic pots and placed small 
plastic saucers inside the ceramic containers to catch the water drainage. 

One of the causes for ivies and other indoor plants to die is spider mites. 
Washing plants with soapy water about once a month helps prevent spider mites. 


The ever-changing pine chest landscape may very well 
keep this topiary all summer or longer.  
I like the FRENCH look it gives. 

Here is my list of 10 tips for growing a topiary. 
Clicking on the photo should enlarge it, and 
printing it on letter-size paper will keep the tips handy. 
Save the 10 Tips on Pinterest for future reference. 
graphics by The Graphics Fairy
Now I'm thinking perhaps I should add some green moss 
in the top of the potted topiary to dress up how it looks. 

Gardening is never ending.... outside and in. 
And neither is decorating... :) 

Do you have a favorite topiary plant? 
Do you have any tips for how to care for them? 
I would love for you to share a link to this post with just a click of a button for email, your blog, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+1 by using the buttons near the Comments. 

Please join me at these inspiring sites...