With little in flower, add architectural interest with topiary this winter.

No matter what time of year, a well-tended topiary shape is guaranteed to catch your attention. Usually created using evergreen plants, these shapes take centre stage during the winter months, bringing structure and an element of fun when the majority of garden plants are in their resting phase.

While now is not the time to shape topiary – clipping stimulates the plants to produce new growth and young foliage is vulnerable to frost damage – it is a good time to invest in a topiary shape for your plot, or settle in new plants ready for training next year.

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Buxus topiary shapes

Evergreen box (Buxus sempervirens) is perhaps the most common choice for creating topiary shapes.

It is a very forgiving plant, responding well to regular pruning as well as hard pruning. It will grow well in most sites and situations, in the ground or in containers.

Large specimen plants can be very expensive, but a small topiary training frame, set over a small starter plant won’t cost the earth. I picked up these three starter kits from www.topiaryplants.co.uk for less than £50, and with proper care and regular trims they will last for years.

Ivy topiary ball on a budget

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Old wire hanging baskets no longer fit for use, can be cheaply and easily adapted to make  a frame for training ivy into a ball shape. Simply wire two baskets together to form the frame and secure this in the centre of a planted pot of young ivies.

The ivy stems are then threaded around the basket wires and left to settle in and grow. Remove shoot tips to encourage side shooting and regularly bend back wayward growth to the frame through the growing season.

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