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Muscari Topiary with Julie

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television


Decorative topiary can be made from unusual plants like muscari, which is most often used as a border planting. Bulb expert Julie Padrutt of Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, demonstrates how to shape more than two hundred mature muscari bulbs around a large cone-shaped frame to create a stunning topiary.

Julie uses a metal frame anchored in a pot of sand. She then fills the frame with a well-draining potting mixture and covers it with a layer of sphagnum moss. The muscari bulbs are then inserted through the moss layer. If you prefer to use fewer bulbs, seed the topiary with rye grass, which will fill in between the muscari. Experiment with different metal frames, available from floral-supply stores, or make your own, using chicken wire.

Muscari Topiary
Tools and Materials

  • Metal topiary frame
  • Terra-cotta pot, large enough to accommodate bottom of frame
  • Sand
  • Medium-gauge wire
  • Julie's potting mixture (instructions follow)
  • Dampened sphagnum moss
  • 200 to 250 muscari bulbs, in bloom

Muscari Topiary How-To
1. Set metal topiary frame in pot, and fill pot 3/4 full with sand to anchor. Wrap wire at 2- to 3-inch increments; the wire will help provide a skeleton for the soil and sphagnum moss.

2. Fill the frame with a layer of soil, and apply a layer of sphagnum moss, pressing it firmly and tucking it between the wires and frame. Arrange muscari bulbs by pressing them into the moss surface; use your fingers to loosen moss as necessary. Repeat process until topiary frame is full. Sprinkle with rye-grass seed, if desired. Water well. To maintain, water and fertilize as necessary.

Julie's Potting Mixture
Tools and Materials

  • Mixing trough
  • Measuring scoop
  • Peat
  • Sand
  • Vermiculite
  • Charcoal

Julie's Potting Mixture How-To
Thoroughly combine 3 parts peat, 3 parts sand, 2 parts vermiculite, and 1 part charcoal in a large mixing trough. Use as a planting medium for bulbs.

Learn more about Longwood Gardens. Topiary frames are available from floral-supply stores.

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