March 24, 2010

The Topiary


"I have the winter blues," I whined yesterday on the phone to a friend who lives in California.

It's unconstitutional to still be wearing a wool coat and gloves.

"What you need is a topiary," my friend told me matter-of-factly.

The relationship between a manicured shrub and personal happiness eluded me at first, but the more photographs of topiaries that I viewed online, the more confident that I became in my conviction to have one on my front porch by the end of the day.



I ran into my first big hurdle at the local garden center, where I learned that real topiaries are not available until early spring in Philadelphia (ie. July) and when they are in stock, they cost $300. It took some work, but I found an acceptable substitute at a craft store for $24.99 with a coupon.

When I got home, I planted the bush in a large garden pot. I filled in the gaps with crumpled newspaper and old blankets and then covered everything with a bag of Spanish moss. In the end, I was very proud of myself. As long as one stayed at least 10 feet away from the object and didn't try to touch or smell it, one would never know that its leaves were plastic.

After depositing my ingenious creation on the slab of concrete next to my front door, I went inside and waited to be overwhelmed with happiness. I never was overtaken by joy, but the sight of my beloved topiary the next morning did take my breath away.

"Argh!" I yelled in horror. "What happened?"

Overnight, the wind had uprooted the plant from its secure moorings and deposited it in the middle of my front lawn. Ten dollars worth of Spanish moss was missing. The front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer was wrapped around the base of my neighbor's mailbox.

"You put a fake houseplant outside?" my friend asked incredulously a few hours later.

The way that she asked this question made it seem like my idea was not a good one.

After an afternoon of deep soul-searching and a second trip to the craft store for another bag of Spanish moss, I have decided that I am not a topiary person.

My topiary, in it's new home in the garage.

29 comments

Amy said...

Oh hey, just fill the pot with a little sand, rocks, or cement even! I will be heavy and stay put nicely!

Laura said...

You actually made one? From scratch? Wow you're way more ambitious than I. I bought a fake one already complete from the craft store.

happyfamily said...

Hey! We know how much you love Craigslist- why not just sell it!

Jennifer said...

I commend your ambition! Such a crafty momma :)

Laurie said...

Trying very hard to contain my laughter so as not to wake the children. I am rolling!!!

Diane said...

Too funny. At least you didn't water it!

Sarah Phillips said...

Thats funny! i do the same thing with flowers... i have fake flowers planted in planters in front of my house.. i had some in the back yard too.. but my dog ate them! lol.

Stef said...

Haha. That sounds like something I would do!! Awesome!

WILLIAM said...

I have some type of wierd hatred for Topiaries. I do not know why but I cannot stand them.

Leca said...

I hear ya! I've been battling the winter blues here in Wisconsin for a while now. I've tried special light bulbs and vitamins. The only thing that works for me is going tanning about once a week. It's a nice cozy warm nap with a zap of sunshine. Good luck!

LemonyRenee' said...

I've always thought topiaries are the poodles of the dog world.

Anonymous said...

Did you save the receipt?

Sandy said...

Costco has real ones for sale. I can check the price and pick one up for you if you like. Give me a call.

Jennifer said...

haha!

Umm.. in the second picture of topiaries, that one is just a Christmas tree with the mange. And as for fake ones... well, yeah.. it's been kind windy here. I can't imagine putting a fake plant outside... I feel certain it would suffer the same fate.

Margaret said...

That is a really cute idea and it sucks that you can't find a live one where you are at right now. I would buy one in July.

Queen of Crafts, Current Events, and Such. said...

Crafty is not always do-able in our climates...Our Spring fever is almost alway crushed by the weather.....Crap!

AlsoMean said...

Wow, you took action toward happiness and decorated! You are SOOO artsy ;-)

Madeline said...

LMAO!!!! SO funny!! At least you tried!

Too Many Hats said...

Hehehe - you need a vacation to CA, that will make you feel happy for sure. I had a friend once "plant" plastic flowers in her front yard planter - it as all sorts of tacky.

Lisa Loo said...

Topiary's are evil that way. No matter how they cut/trim them i am always feel like I am in Whoville.

Rachel said...

This is hilarious. I love your writing. I got turned on to your blog by my friend--she sent me a link to your post about editing kids' college essays. I am a high school English teacher, so I got a real kick out of that one.

Thanks for the good laughs and the good attitude!

Anonymous said...

Topiaries can be tricky, but don't let it get the best of you. Get a smaller pot; topiaries look better in smaller pots for some reason. Fill it with plaster of paris, make sure it's straight and glue the moss on top. Don't let your neighbor's comment bother you. She sounds like the snobby type that doesn't use Cream of Mushroom soup either.

Anonymous said...

oh, I'm glad your back - I thought you were going on break longer. Yay! Deb from Ma

jodi said...

Try ordering a REAL Lemon or Lime dwarf tree from a mail order garden catalog. They start super small but still have a spring time scent and are easy to manage inside :)

Angie said...

You need a rose bush. They start greening up in February just to let you know that spring is definitely comeing and then later- they make roses. Seriously, nothing better.

The Parent Trapped said...

I don't know about a topiary, the trip to the craft store would definitely cheer me up. I'm not one for "shop-therapy" but all about "craft-therapy". Your bush is beautiful. (He, He!!)

Cathryn said...

That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. For Pete's sake woman--go buy an indoor seed starter and enjoy watching real plants grow. Then in a few weeks you can plant them outside with the kids. Try sugar snap peas, maybe your kids will eat them.

Nishant said...

I can't imagine putting a fake plant outside... I feel certain it would suffer the same fate.
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le said...

I lived in a rental house, with two planted topiaries in the yard. The owner had planted them when every tree he tried died. People would complement me on how beautiful they were all the time. Every time they did I would look at them at shock and disbelieve and tell them they were fake. I was the only one who ever noticed they were fake, I thought it was terribly embarrassing to have fake plants planted in a garden. But they did look nice in the winter perfectly green with snow dusted all over them.