Did you see the movie Edward Scissorhands? The concept of the movie is similar to the classic horror film Frankenstein. Simply put, a mad scientist creates a human being. In Edward Scissorhands the mad scientist gave his Frankenstein monster pruning shears to serve as hands.
Poor Edward had a terrible time relating to people because of his scissorhands. He was quite unhappy until he learned about the art of topiary –- sculpting bushes and shrubs into shapes.
You don’t have to be Edward Scissorhands to explore the hobby of topiary. However, you do need to be tenacious and have a passion for detail. You can start off creating simple shapes of a bush like an hourglass to gain experience and work up to create extravagant sculptures like an elephant or some other animal.
Getting started on becoming the Michelangelo of your neighborhood is not as difficult as you might think.
Becoming a Topiarist
First you need to purchase some tools of the trade. They include:
· Pruning or Topiary Shears
· Wire Topiary Frame
A topiary frame is a wire frame formed into a geometric shape like a circle, a box, a triangle, etc. These frames can be found at garden centers, nurseries and home supply or hardware stores.
Visit the store and view the different frame shapes that are available and pick the shape in which you want to sculpt a bush.
Next, go to a nursery to purchase a bush. Select a bush that has naturally small leaves. This will assure that you will not be cutting larger leaves in half during regular trimming. Bush species that are ideal for sculpting include evergreen, boxwood, holly and cotoneaster.
Make sure that you select a bush that has healthy-looking leaves and roots and is not in a pot. The limbs should be evenly spaced and the bush should be growing in composted land that is free of moss and weeds.
As you inspect bushes for possible purchase, consult with the salesperson concerning the needs of the bush you are contemplating buying.
When you have the bush at home make sure you select a spot for planting that gets a proper amount of sunlight and has the right type of soil needed for optimal growth.
Use the frame as a guide and use sharp pruning shears or topiary shears when you perform the first pruning. Topiary shears feature a spring action that makes it easier to cut detailed or large sculptures. It is best to prune too little than too much. Cutting too much may result in a sparse or uneven shape.
Sculpting With a Frame
Position the frame over the bush and place mulch around it. You should also fertilize the bush about once per month and water as needed to assure moist soil.
Tuck branches inside the frame or tie them to the frame to follow the shape. Prune 1-inch off branches in areas that need more growth to fill in. You can use pruning shears, lopping shears or bypass shears to perform the task. You should prune short pieces to encourage a bushier growth.
Prune the bush every two to three months during the growing season and use the frame to guide you as you make the cuts. Don’t prune more than 3-inches from each branch at a time to promote new growth.
Trim the bush about two months before the end of the growing season, using the frame to guide you. This allows time for the branches to heal before the start of the winter dormancy period.
Reduce the frequency of fertilizing once the bush attains maturity and the desired shape is accomplished. This will slow the growth of the bush to reduce the amount of pruning needed to maintain the shape.