March 24, 2010
"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.