July 19, 2011

Topiary and Pleached Potted Plants



PLEACHING A TINY HEDGE OF PINK-FLOWERED ROSEMARY, MAKES AN INTERESTING DESIGN ELEMENT FOR A DECK OR TERRACE
 Mid summer is a great time to start cutting for potted topiary trees or to train existing topiary. This year I am trying a few different things, and the most exciting is my project called Pleached Rosemary Hedge, which I am growing in four window boxes. Pleaching trees or shrubs, is a classical training method that usually involves weaving branches or trimming and training a series of trese or shrub to create what is essentially a raised hedge. What I am doing it bringing it down in scale - really down. I am not sure what I will do with my tiny hedge, but it is portable, since I am growing it in window boxes, so at the very least, it will look nice on the railing of the deck, or along a walk.

THE TWO LARGE TOPIARY TREES ON EITHER SIDE OF THE GREENHOUSE ARE BAY LAUREL TREES, AND THE TWO SMALLER TOPIARY TREES ARE A ROSEMARY ON THE LEFT, AND A WESTRINGIA ROSEMARIFOLIA ON THE RIGHT.
THESE SMALL ROSEMARY TREES ARE IN NEED FOR A TRIM, IN FACT, A TIGHT TRIM ALMOST BACK TO THE MAIN STEM. WHY? BECAUSE A DENSE INTERIOR BRANCHING WILL GIVE YOU A TOPIARY THAT IS MORE FULL, AND LESS LIKELY TO SPLIT.
A FULL GROWN ROSEMARY TOPIARY, HERE, A WHITE FLOWERED FORM IN A TALL CONTAINER THAT I KEEP ON THE WALK. THIS IS ONE OF A PAIR, AND IT WAS STARTED FROM A CUTTING THAT I TOOK TWO YEARS AGO.
 Training topiary trees is not hard, you simply need to find a plant that will grow woody, and one that can be cut back hard, for frequent trimming is key if you want to achieve a tight globe.
This more unusual plant, a Dyschoriste hygrophylodes will make a very interesting topiary subject, because it will have violet blossoms like purple petunias.

 One common mistake with young plants that you want to train into topiary, is to trim them too early, this is especially true with tropical plants, like this one, and even Myrtles or Rosemary - Of course you want to allow a central leader to become the main stem, which you will tie gently with twine or even better, real raffia, to a sturdy non-metal stake. Then, don't trim off the horizontal branches too early, for they are necessary to the plant to photosynthesize, and to provide nutrients to the plant. All too often, I have seen people pot up a rosemary cutting, then they strip off all of the foliage leaving just the very top. What happens is that the plant then goes into shock, and growth slows down. Finding the perfect time to trim off the horizontal branches on the trunk is key, but a good rule of thumb is that while in training mode, keep at least two thirds of the foliage on the main stem until your plant reaches the height you want, and then when you snip the main leader off, you can start removing the growth on the main stem up to where you want the globe, or globes.
 Tie the main stem gently to a bamboo cane or pole., and leave enough foliage on the plant so that it can still gather nutrients to grow on, faster. You can always remove these leaves later as long as the stems are still not woody.

Many plants can be topiary, even a woody citrus like this Indian Kumquat, Citrofortunella x

A woody fuchsia can make a beautiful standard topiary ( a standard, is simply a single cane, with a single globe on top - the easiest form to train). It will take two years to train a standard fuchsia, and you can train either an upright form, or a hanging form. Frequent pinching is key to achieve a dense head at top.


1 comment :

  1. Can't wait to see how this turns out!

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