The art of topiary is almost as old as civilization—the ancient Romans had a title, “Topiarius”, for the gardener who clipped box and cypress into geometric shapes. From the knot gardens of the Renaissance to the 17th century formal geometric European gardens to the grand use of topiary in some of the great estates of the Vanderbilts and DuPonts, the shaping of shrubs into towering hedges, pyramids, or whimsical animals has long
delighted gardeners. Here in the United States especially, indoor topiary has become a popular option for those with limited
space to garden. An easy way to enjoy this art is by training vining plants onto wire frames.
English ivy is probably the best plant to use, as it is easy to come by, grows vigorously, and has simple care requirements. Indoors, English ivy (Hedera helix) and its many, many cultivars, prefer bright indirect light or direct morning sun. Soil should dry slightly, and never allow the roots to stand in water. Either wrap new
growth onto the frame, or if the plant is already very full, cut off any excess growth. In very dry locations, mist the leaves frequently to discourage spider mites. The geometric shapes of most ivy topiaries make them a good choice for a formal setting, while the homely, simple nature of the plant suits a casual
décor, as well.