Magazine article Sunset

A Topiary Tale

Magazine article Sunset

A Topiary Tale

Article excerpt

How making 15 wedding centerpieces took over her life

I can laugh about it now. But believe me, after a frenzied four-day marathon of single-handedly making 15 topiaries for a friend's wedding reception, I was much closer to crying.

It all started with breezy overconfidence. My good friend Joan had fallen in love with the idea of dried-flower topiaries as table centerpieces for her garden wedding reception, but at a retail cost of more than $100 per topiary, she couldn't afford to purchase one for each table. When I unwisely remarked that one could make topiaries for much less money, she looked hopefully at me for a moment, then asked, "Could you?" I glibly assured her that indeed I could, and volunteered for the project - though I had never made a topiary in my life.

Fortunately, I had friends who had made them and who were happy to provide how-to instructions. Six months before the wedding, I made a prototype, which went together fairly easily and quickly, considering my lack of expertise. First, I spray-painted a small clay flowerpot gold and set it aside to dry completely. Then I poured plaster of paris into a plastic flowerpot small enough to fit inside the clay pot, and inserted a straight branch topped with a 6-inch-diameter plastic foam ball. I held the ball in place between two chairs while the plaster dried.

To attach the ball, I gently poked one end of the branch about 2 inches into the foam, removed the branch and added some hot glue to the hole, then replaced the branch and let the glue dry for a few minutes. Once that had set, I covered the ball with white glue and pressed on green moss (from the garden department at Orchard Supply) to cover it completely. This took about half an hour. After another drying period of about 8 hours, I attached individual dried flower buds using a glue gun. Joan's wedding flowers were pink, cream, and yellow, so I used dried rosebuds and larkspur. I also threw in some deep blue-purple statice to pick up the royal blue of the bridesmaids' dresses. To protect the flowers from shattering or fading, I sprayed them with florist's sealant.

Finally, I inserted the topiary into the painted clay pot, glued a thick layer of moss over the plaster to hide it, and tied a bow around the "trunk." I took a photograph and mailed it to Joan, who gave me her stamp of approval to make the remainder in the same fashion.

I breathed a sigh of relief. If I made a couple of topiaries each weekend, I'd be finished long before the big day. …

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