Did you know you could do this with ornamental grasses? If you don’t see them in that photo – look closer. That’s not an orangutan – it’s a grass topiary hanging from that tree limb. Totally awesome! No the grass isn’t dead, it’s very much alive. They planted this animal using a brown weeping sedge from the Carex family. Makes you want to rush out, and gather the supplies to try something like this on your own. Hang tight, by the bottom of this page your urge will go off the charts.
Topiary shaping of evergreen shrubs, moss covered wire forms known as topiary sculptures, and using annual plants and herbs to create art is an ancient thing, but today’s take on living plant art takes these Old World ideas to an entirely new realm. They call it mosaiculture and it’s beyond amazing. Naturally they didn’t have the sheer variety of plant colors hundreds of years ago that these botanical artists have to select from today. It’s most likely that their imagination just didn’t stretch this far back then either.
While you may have seen some really cool living plant sculptures done with flowering annuals and moss at places like Disney World, perhaps on the lawn of a vast estate, at a zoo, or botanical garden, a small group of truly talented people who have learned an incredible amount about plants have surpassed the average 3D plant covered project. These totally mind-blowing sculptures seem to exist in vast abundance at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia, and in Canada at the Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal. For the past 16 years botanical artists from around the globe have converged in Montreal to add their imagination to the gardens dedicated to promoting the art of horticulture through these sensational living plant sculptures and gardens too. Atlanta doesn’t seem to be far behind. Visitors report that the sculptures surprise you when you least expect to see another one.
Here’s a few of my favorites:
Viking Serpent Slayer? (Montreal) … Courtesy of My Retired Life
Unicorn (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) … Courtesy of Garden Delights
Black Mondo Grass Apes (Montreal) … Courtesy of Inhabitat
The Ogre (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) … Courtesy of Of Gardens
If you’re not crafty enough to make your own form, don’t fret. You can buy them ready made from places that sell topiary forms. Of course, yours might not be as huge as these, and a lot of practice in getting the plant selection and layout will be needed before you arrive at masterpieces like these. Some of them are sheared to keep them smooth and tightly knit. This height of detail would be impossible even with the most well mannered annual flowers, so be prepared to do some homework on the vast array of tiny leafed ground hugging cultivars, and don’t overlook succulents. You’ll want them to be very drought and heat tolerant too, because the forms are stuffed with peat moss which means regular watering is needed or your cover plants could dry right up. For this reason many times the forms are planted with mosses and found in shady parts of private gardens… it makes them more user-friendly. Still, there are mosses that offer a variety of colors, not all of them are green.