The first topiary frames that I saw, as well as the first topiary frames that I made, were made out of chicken wire. This might be because just about every gardener or garden shed has a roll of chicken wire. I guess it isn't too far of a leap to go from protecting your vegetables from the local rabbits to the inspiration of actually making a topiary Rabbit. Here's one of my "inspirations", a bunny rabbit topiary frame made out of chicken wire. (see picture below)
Although chicken wire can be fine for smaller topiary frames, I do not recommend using it for any frame larger than about 18 inches. It just doesn't have the strength necessary to make a sturdy frame larger than that. I recommend using Stucco netting over chicken wire because Stucco netting is made with a much heavier gauge wire and so it is a lot stronger than chicken wire. (Note: if you do not have either of these nettings lying around, both chicken wire and Stucco netting is usually available at any home improvement center.)
Unfortunately, even stucco netting has its limitations. If you want to make larger sized topiary frames you should consider making them out of metal rod. Most of the topiary frames that I make are made out of metal rod. (see picture below) Using metal rod allows you to make topiary frames as large as you want. ( I once made a 17 foot Deer) Of course, getting a welder is a must when making topiary frames out of metal rod. (More on welders coming in a future blog post. Stay tuned.) Finding metal rod is a little challenging. You will probably need to go to a metal supply house. Most home improvement centers will have 3/8 and 1/2 inch rebar but will not have the smaller diameter rod necessary for making smaller topiary frames. I use a lot of 1/4 inch diameter rod and 3/16 inch diameter rod. I sometimes even use 1/8 inch diameter rod for smaller sized frames.
Making topiary frames and growing topiaries has been my passion for almost 30 years now. The process allows me to express both my love for plants and my love for art. I have made so many different shapes that it is hard for me to remember them all. Some of the more common shapes that I have made are Bunnies, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Dolphins, Elephants, Giraffes, Hearts, Hummingbirds, Lions, Monkeys, Penguins, Pigs, Shamrocks, Sea Serpents, Teddy Bears, and Trains. That said, my favorite topiary frames to make are letters and logos. This may stem from the fact that my favorite form of art is the Graphic Arts. I love fonts and logos and page layout.
A third passion of mine is teaching. I love to pass on what I have learned over the years about making topiary frames. This is why I have titled my first blog post "Making Topiary Frames". You may have stumbled across my blog because you are searching for information on how to make a topiary frame. Let me say Welcome! You have found a place where questions can be asked and where knowledge is shared. You are welcome to ask a question and even share your knowledge. My hope is that this blog will become a community, a place where people come to share their passion for topiary.
Chris Myers, Topiary Artist