Sunday, May 5, 2013

A boxwood topiary (and tutorial!)

This project has been brewing for a very long time.  When I was little, our family would visit my dad's best friend from college in the beautiful old farmhouse he shared with his wife just outside Charlottesville, Virginia.  They moved away from that house when I was fairly young, but the thing I remember most about it was the beautiful boxwoods they had planted allover the property.  I can still catch a hint of their scent whenever I think about that house.  Ever since then, I've loved boxwoods for their structure and simple beauty.  So, when preserved boxwood wreaths and topiaries started gaining popularity recently, I knew I needed to get in on the trend!

I would love to have been able to use real preserved boxwood for this project, but it's a little out of my price range, so I settled for the fake kind.  Fake it till you make it, after all (or can afford it, in this case).  My favorite look for the boxwood is when it's trained into a topiary form so that's what I went for here.

To duplicate this project, first you'll need either a preserved boxwood globe or a reasonably real-looking faux one.  I got mine at Joann's using both a 50% AND 15% off coupon, so it cost me about $5 dollars.  Totally doable!

Next, you'll need a dead tree in your back yard like this:

That does this every time it rains:

Ok, ok.  You don't really need a dead tree that drops tons of debris all over your backyard anytime the wind blows, but it sure does provide as many sticks as you could possibly ever need for any and all projects.  Forever.  But I digress.  What you actually need is just a fairly straight stick onto which you can affix your boxwood globe.

I thought the stick by itself looked a little bit plain, so I ended up wrapping it several times with some kudzu vine that I pulled out of that pile of dead stuff.

This would work equally well with grapevine, which you should be able to buy at any craft store.  Just twist it around the stick a few times until it looks how you'd like!

Once you have your stick wrapped (or not, if you prefer), it's time to attach it to the boxwood.  My faux boxwood is made up of a dense collection of leaves radiating out from a smaller hollow plastic framework in the center.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a good picture of this.  After a bit of work, I was able to jam the stick all the way through the center of the ball.  With a preserved boxwood ball, you should be able to just push the stick into the floral foam that's holding the leaves.  In either case, I suggest using some kind of adhesive to make sure the ball is securely attached.  I used E6000 to secure mine.

Ta da!  A perfectly charming little boxwood topiary!  Pretty, isn't it?  Alright, so now that you've finished the top of the project, it's time to put it into whatever container you've chosen for the base.  I decided to use the beautiful crock my dad bought for Stephen and me for our anniversary last year.  Isn't it beautiful?  I just love it!

To keep your topiary standing straight, I recommend sinking the bottom end of the stick into some floral foam.  That will keep it really sturdy once the whole thing is finished.  This can be a bit of a finicky job, but just keep at it until you've got your stick standing up straight.  (It took me 3 tries to get mine how I wanted it.)  After the base of the stick is in the foam, place the foam block in the center of your container and surround the foam tightly with some kind of packing material.  I used wads of butcher paper and shoved them tightly all around the foam to keep the topiary very secure in the center of my crock.

Once I secured the foam, I added enough paper on top to create a small mound around the bottom of the topiary stick.  I knew I wanted to cover the hill with moss, so it didn't really matter if the surface was particularly flat.  However, if you'd like to top your topiary base with river rocks or something like that (which I think would look really nice), don't mound up the paper quite as much as I did.  The rocks will just slide out of your container if you do!

The moss product I used, "SuperMoss," also came for Joann's.  It's real preserved moss and it comes attached to an easy-to-cut plastic mesh.  The mesh made it super easy to work with, so I'd really recommend this product or at least something similar.  I've used preserved sheet moss that wasn't attached to mesh before and this is much easier.

Working in sections, I arranged the moss on the top of the paper mound to create a finished look for the topiary base.  I used hot glue to attach the moss to the paper so that curious little hands won't be able to pull it off (at least not before I notice them, at least).  I love how it turned out! 

So there you have it!  A perfectly pretty boxwood topiary that will be at home just about anywhere.  I think it would look particularly good in a front entry. What a lovely welcome for visitors :)

I hope you have a chance to try this project!  It took hardly any time to finish and has a big impact.  A perfect combination!

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