Using topiary frames is an easy way to start topiary, particularly if you are using a training ivy or similar topiary plant. You can buy topiary frames in all shapes and sizes from your local garden centre and get started almost straight away!
Before choosing your topiary plants, decide whether you want to use them as topiary hedging plants or individual topiary pieces, grown in the ground or in containers. If you decide to use containers, make sure these are a suitable size for growing a small tree or shrub, both of which require plenty of space for their roots to develop.
To encourage growth in your topiary plants, spread an organic or bark mulch every spring and apply a suitable plant fertiliser to the soil once a year.
A good pair of garden shears will be needed to give your topiary a neat finish. When clipping your plants – especially if you are doing this free-hand, it is a good idea to keep stepping back to view your handiwork and to make sure you are progressing in the way you need to go to achieve the right shape.
Evergreen plants such as box, holly and yew are suitable for hard pruning early in the spring. June is the best time to give existing topiary plants their annual trim, although a fast growing species could require more than one trim during the growing season.
It is possible to buy ready-trained topiary plants, but you will find it much less expensive and a lot more fun to start growing your own pieces of living sculpture and have something unique of interest in your garden throughout the year.