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Topiary gardening, the art of fashioning living plants into ornamental shapes, has been practiced for centuries. Found throughout the gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort are hundreds of topiary figures, ranging from traditional hedges and sheared trees to fanciful shapes and a whole menagerie of "chlorophyll" Disney characters.
Three different types of topiary at the Walt Disney World Resort have developed out of our desire to put on an award winning horticultural show. Free-form topiary requires your imagination and some shart shears - the other two utilize a frame specially suited to its needs. A lightweight frame is used for shrub topiary, while sphagnum topiary require a much stronger frame specially designed to support the weight of the figure.
Free Form Topiary
Free-form topiary is the oldest form of topiary and has been practiced for centuries. Look around your neighborhood and you can probably spot free-form topiary in many yards. Shrubs and trees, with some imaginative shearing, can change into round balls, squares or rectangles, or geometric forms. Before starting, check your yard to see where a topiary will add to the landscape and will be able to grow for a long time - then you are ready to begin.
Tips for creating free-form topiary:
Shrub topiary require from three to ten years to produce. A sculpted metal frame is used as a guide to assist with the training and shaping. The frames, which are placed over the plant, must be large enough at their smallest points to allow for growth - usually no smaller than four inches in diameter.
Shrubs that shear well, are naturally full, and are fairly fast-growing should be selected. Don't choose a very fast grower or you will be spending alot of time shearing! Fairly young plants that haven't gotten woody yet work the best - older plants may have woody trunks that don't hide well and may "sunburn" if severely shaped. Also, mature plants won't "break" or fill in as quickly.
Tips for creating shrub topiary:
Sphagnum topiary produce quick results. These topiary are grown using heavy steel frames. The frames for sphagnum topiary must be heavy-duty as they are the only support for these figures. The frames are stuffed with un-milled sphagnum moss and planted with either close growing vining plants or uniform compact plants.
Tips for creating sphagnum topiary:
Standard Form Topiary
The word "standard" is used to describe a plant which is grown to a designated height and then encouraged to bush or form a "head" at the top. Many people think that this resembles a small tree. Creating a standard is quite simple:
Topiary Reference Guide
Plants used for Free-form and Shrub Topiary
Plants used for Sphagnum Topiary
Sphagnum Topiary Plant Material Sources
Sphagnum Topiary Frames
Topiary Gardens to Visit
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