I am always trying to find ways to bring the garden inside the house and at this time of the year, there are loads of flowers to choose from. I love making topiary trees because they can be created from a mixture of all different colours and textures (of both flowers and foliages) and they always look extravagant on a sideboard or dining table.
I first make the ‘pot and pole’ bit by lining a ceramic pot with a plastic bag and filling with cement (the bag is important so that in the future you can remove the cement if you want the pot back)! Before the cement sets, you need to sink a decent stick into it and decide the height that you want your ‘pole’ – although, if you are careful, you can always alter this later. At this point you do need to think a little bit about scale and try and work out a good balance between the size of your pot and the height of your pole so that it doesn’t look overbalanced (or worse case, actually tip over).
Once you have left your cement to really harden over a day or so, soak half a block of oasis thoroughly (you can buy ready made oasis balls, but they can be expensive). Push your oasis onto the top of your stick, ensuring that you don’t push all the way through to the other side. Check for minimal wobbles! Whatever you do, try not to pull it off and stick it back on again because the hole will be too big and will definitely not remain steady. Remember, it will all be covered up at the end, so it doesn’t really matter too much.
Choose your foliages and flowers; if you are not sure about longevity – either go with safe choices or be prepared to experiment, garden roses don’t usually last as long as bought ones, but they are often much nicer! Sages, bay, pittosporum and other hardy foliages are usually good ones to choose too. All different people have different methods of doing this next bit… do what looks good to your eye, but this is how I do mine…
I usually start with one type of foliage (this takes up more stems than you would initially think) and I make an ‘equator’ round the middle of the oasis, trying to establish a roughly even diameter. Then I make a similar circle going from top around to the bottom, before dotting a lot of foliage in the gaps. Hopefully this should start to create the ball shape and be pieces of similar heights. Then it’s up to you… you can add the second foliage, place in the larger flowers making an even spread all over. You can make sections of the same flower, create patterns or make it romantic and random! Keep turning your tree for a good coverage and pay special attention to the bit where the pole meets the oasis. Towards the end, fill in with any left over foliage and flowers to make sure that all the oasis is hidden.
Finally spray your creation with water and put it somewhere where it can be admired!
Ideas for your next attempt… do 3 mini ones to go along your table for your next dinner party, make two large green and red ones to go outside your front door at Christmas time (put wired ribbons in that will glitter under porch lights), create a seasonal tree to go in a church window… the possibilities are endless.
Don’t be afraid to experiment!!