Topiary Centerpiece

Ivy, the ever-sociable climber, turns a new, stone flowerpot into an instant classic.


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All it takes to create this great look is a suitable container, which you landscape with a 6-inch flowering plant in the middle and ivy plants from 2-inch pots around the perimeter to soften the edges. For a stylized shape, add a wire handle and tie ivy branches to it.

Instructions:

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1. Assemble materials. Select a flowerpot about 10 inches across and a full-flowering plant at least 6 inches across. Good choices include dianthus, kalanchoe, tuberous begonia, or chrysanthemum. Position the plant in the center of the container, and pour in potting soil to cover the root ball.

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2. Line the planter with small ivy plants along the inside edges, packing the plants together. Add soil, and tamp it down around the plants. Arrange tendrils of ivy so they spill over the edges. Continue until the entire planter is skirted in ivy.

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3. Add wire. Bend a 10-gauge wire about 3 feet long into an arch shape. Proportion the wire to arch about 20 inches above the planter. Slide the ends into the planter, all the way down to the bottom. Make sure the wire is pressed tightly against both sides of the planter so it will stay in place.

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4. Train ivy. Carefully weave some of the longer, trailing ivy branches over and under the arch from both sides. Secure with green twine every few inches. As the ivy grows, pinch growing tips off the ivy branches at the base of the wire arch. This will encourage tendrils to grow up and around the arch.

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