Patience is a virtue. Sadly I am a bit lacking in that department and that’s the reason I’ve always left topiary to the more blessed among us. But you really don’t have to wait that long for results if you choose the right plant.
Lonicera nitida Baggesens Gold is a fast growing shrub with small tightly packed box like leaves, easy to take cuttings from, and, it’s tough! It’s the ideal experimental plant for budding topiary beginners.
So what shape to start sculpting? Personally I love the tropical look and I am redesigning my garden as a ‘tropical paradise’ (well that’s how I sold it to the wife), so topiary peacocks and precise geometric shapes are not really in keeping with the theme. I eventually decided to go for a monolithic design. A miniature stonehenge in flora is a bit beyond me, so I settled, finally, on some living easter island heads. I already had some ‘balled up’ loniceras in the garden so my first step was to let them grow out a bit to try to make them in to a box as a starting shape.
Next to get that heavy brow. Remember, the thing is with sculpting is that you can’t add it on, you can only take it away, so the brow is created by cutting the cheeks at an angle being careful to leave the middle bit for a nose.
Now trim off the bottom of the nose to leave an area for the mouth. Then just cut a hole for the mouth.
Just keep trimming the shrubs every couple of weeks in the growing season. The topiary in the picture is on it’s second year and should become more defined over time