Creating a potted topiary

Beckie Fox

container topiary

My garden isn’t formal, nor are the containers I plant every summer. Most of the pots contain a revolving collection of plants and colour combinations I’m fond of or want to experiment with. The exceptions are a couple of formally clipped myrtle standards in terra-cotta pots I’ve had for a few years. It’s my modest topiary collection – plants formed into symmetrical shapes by clipping their foliage and twigs. Started as small plants, they have been repotted as needed, and are brought indoors to spend the winter in a sunny window. Currently, I’m in the process of hardening them off so they can spend summer outdoors.

If you’ve wanted to try creating a potted topiary, “How to make an elegant topiary” will get you started. It’s easy and addictive. 

container topiary
A single-stem Greek myrtle topiary is one of the easiest to maintain.

Planning for a succession of bloom

It’s heartening to hear from readers who find an item on the Garden Making website that helps them with a new gardening project. Mary in Nova Scotia wrote to say she found “Gardening design ideas for all-season blooms” about planning a garden to be visually appealing through all seasons useful.

“We moved a couple of years ago from a Toronto house with a teeny, tiny yard to a place in Nova Scotia with a huge yard,” she writes. “It’s mostly grass at the moment, which I want to gradually replace, but it’s a daunting task and we haven’t done much yet because it’s so hard to know where to start. This article and plan are great inspiration.”

The in-depth article by Judith Adam provides practical suggestions and a downloadable planting plan on how to create a garden bed that will reward you with interest from early spring to late fall. Called “succession of bloom,” the process involves choosing plants — perennials, shrubs, trees, groundcovers — that will bloom at different times of the year to provide something of interest throughout the growing season.

To soak or not to soak?

The triggers that prompt a seed to germinate vary, depending on the type of seed. Some need a cold period (stratification) to wake up, while others require light to germinate or perhaps complete darkness. Large seed, such as morning glory, sweet pea, pumpkin, squash, sunflowers and other large seeds, often benefit from a 12- to 24-hour soak in water to kickstart germination. Skipping this step before sowing does no damage; the soaking merely shortens the time it takes for the seeds to sprout. “Soak seeds before planting: Is it necessary?” by Epic Gardening gives a fuller picture on this procedure and explains why not all seeds benefit from a dunking. 

How’s your soil?

If gardeners aren’t complaining about the weather, we’re often heard bemoaning our poor soil.  It’s too heavy, it’s too sandy, it’s too wet, it’s too whatever. Supposedly, the ideal soil is called “rich, sandy loam,” but I have yet to meet a gardener who is blessed with this. “My soil is crap” from the Garden Professors explains what are the characteristics of soil that really matter to plant growth, and why determining whether your garden is on “native” soil or fill is also important.

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