My topiary Teddy Bears.

Nandina - 8bOctober 12, 2000

I promised, over on the landscape forum, that I would post the directions for my original teddy bear topiaries. Over the years I have played with the spagnum moss type topiaries wrapped with yards of fishing line and have never been happy with them unless they are put in one spot. Then the intended greenery is planted in the ground to climb and be shaped on the form. But, the free standing ones with creeping fig attached have never looked healthy to me. This thought was reinforced when I went on a garden tour. The owner had constructed 20 of this type, very laboriously, and told me she was disappointed in their appearance. No matter what she fed her topiaries they always looked anemic and thin.

On the the way home I was thinking about the problem and inspiration struck! Got out the sewing machine. Cut two pieces of the black landscape cloth (the type with one side that is fuzzy). Ran two pieces together through the sewing machine and discovered it stitched like a dream. Then, the fun began.

First, I will post the directions for southern gardeners and then give the northern gardeners an idea for a different approach.

1. Locate an easy to assemble teddy bear pattern. Enlarge at a copy center, if desired.

2. Cut the pattern out of landscape cloth (fuzzy side is the right side) and double stitch each seam. Sew each section, head, arms, body, legs. Be sure to leave an opening in the back seam of the body. Do not trim the seams. Add eyes and a nose just as in a regular bear.

3. Now, glue each seam heavily with the type of glue (such as Jewel-it)used to attach beads to sweatshirts. Allow to dry 24 hrs. Finish sewing the bear together and stuff the arms, legs and head with regular polyfil.

4. Put a mixture of 1/2 good potting soil and 1/2 milled spaghum moss in a pail. Add water so you have a soupy mess and let stand for an hour. Wearing rubber gloves, squeeze the water out of this mix and stuff the bear's body tightly.

5. Insert a rooted creeping fig in the back opening and sew the opening shut using a fine brass wire available at hardware stores. Keep well watered. I feed mine with a foliar spray when feeding other plants.

The creeping fig will stick to the fuzzy landscape cloth like glue. All you need to do is direct shoots and trim. If you decide to make a very large bear it will be heavy. My largest one weights about 60#. I made my first bear five years ago and it is holding together perfectly.

To northern gardeners. Follow the above directions, but stuff the whole bear with polyfil. Do not plant creeping fig in it. Tuck several bricks down in the bottom to weight the topiary. These bears, by themselves, are attractive. Now, sew up a hat that has a depression in the crown which you can use as a planting pot. Fill it with annuals of your choice. In winter you can bring it in the house and plant ivy in the hat, or I have planted the small poinsettias in the hat for the holidays. And, you can dress them in outdoor fabrics,...

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michelle derviss - the green zone

fabulous Nandina.....
and I promise not to tell Tony at the design forum.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2000 at 1:11AM
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michelle derviss - the green zone

Well, its not exactly a teddy bears tea party... but I thought you'd get a laugh !

    Bookmark   October 15, 2000 at 12:29PM
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kari(9 fl)

Wow! These sound wonderful! One question, I am a southern gardener...I can't envision where the shoots will protrude after you sew the back closed? I know I missed something, but what?
Do you have any pictures of these? I would love to see them!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2000 at 5:09PM
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KAYE - 6

Hi Nandina,
In all the ideas and projects I've seen this has got to be my very favorite.Ive got plenty time to design my patterns for spring planting too.Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2000 at 11:48AM
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Nandina - 8b

Sorry, I have not checked this forum in awhile and just saw your question. Hope you see the answer! The opening that you leave in the back has to be fairly large because you have to pack the wet peat moss/potting soil combination in tightly. You will find this take a strong hand. When the body is stuffed plant the young creeping fig in the cavity and then, using your fine brass wire, sew the opening closed around the fig. You will find that you can secure the opening around the plant very well using this method.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2001 at 4:37PM
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Fantastic idea. Do you have any pictures?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2001 at 10:47AM
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Colleen - washington state

I'm VERY new to this. If I make a bear out of landscape fabric and stuff it accordingly how can I make an ivy bear? Put roots of ivy inside? How does it get out?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2001 at 10:44PM
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Nandina - 8b

I am not going to post pictures. This is a project which I have tried to describe with some detail and will leave the artistry for others to create.

Yes, you can use a small leafed ivy plant. Select one that has mulitiple stems (leaders). Plant and sew the root end of the ivy into the animal's back....but leave the growing stems of the ivy sticking out. At first the ivy will need encouragement to grow and cling to the fabric. This is done by securing each stem gently to the fabric with a needle threaded with your fine brass wire. A simple stitch will do the job. From that point on the ivy roots will cling to the fabric tightly. You will have to continue directing and pinching the ivy growth.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2001 at 9:48PM
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candi 12

Use hairpins to secure plants to topiary forms.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2001 at 11:37PM
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Dan Zone7NJ

Hairpins? Are they the ones called Bobby Pins? Thanks

    Bookmark   March 27, 2001 at 11:03PM
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