Heart Knot Design- installed!

Friends, how cool is this?! It takes my breath away. Thank you Elizabeth for finding me and allowing me to share your beautiful garden with my friends. I am so honored. And, I am SO taking cuttings this year of my boxwoods!! Thank you for answering all of my nosey questions about your process. My brain is spinning with ideas and I know you will inspire many others to create a knot garden or parterre of their own!

“I think I started taking cuttings in 2008 – and took cuttings for about three years. I ended up with 60 boxwood plants that I bought and about 250 babies that I propagated. I kept on searching for a good pattern that I could do and found your picture. It was perfect as it was made up of squares and half circles…and it was pretty…and it was charming…and I could trim it so it would look like a woven knot…and it had hearts!!! Then I lost your website and couldn’t find it again until I went through some old Facebook posts. Boxwood are slow growing; I trimmed it for the first time this spring. I have wanted to thank you for the longest time! Thank you!!!

Boxwood Design: I have always wanted a shaped English / French garden. I found many examples that were way too difficult to do in the space I had. The outside edge of the knot garden, along the rock edge, is 21 feet. I have room for my “shade” garden and some stone pathways and a bench. I was so happy to find your design. I can do this!!! It is basically straight lines and half-circles. Better yet, they weave together into intertwining hearts. I (and my husband) also like it because it can be a “casual” formal garden.

Propagation: August-September 2008
• There are a lot of resources online – here is one:
• I bought dwarf boxwoods (private nursery, Home Depot, and Lowe’s) and took cuttings. Note: if you leave multiple boxwood in your car on a warm day it will smell like a kitty litter box. …lovely.
• The first time I cut back the whole plant, but that was a bad idea. It left me with many short, unusable pieces, and may have stressed the plant. I found that I could plant 8” (+/-) cuttings that would make the new plants a lot larger. I experimented with later cuttings – one plant I would take cuttings from one side, another plant I would take them from the center, or randomly find branches that looked good. By not pruning the whole plant, I could make cuttings from the same “mommy” plant the following years.
• As I took my cuttings, I put them into a bucket of water so they wouldn’t dry out.

• I trimmed the leaves off of lower couple of inches, or so, and scraped the bark off of one side of the bottom of the cuttings. (see drawing.)
• I stuck them in Root-tone? Some sort of rooting powder.
• Then placed them in a window box, close together, in a mixture of rooting mix and sand. I then soaked them and let them drain. I think I had about 15 window boxes +. I don’t remember.
• I placed them on some benches on our back deck along the side of the house. They received a few hours of morning sun. I kept them damp and misted them 3-4 times a day.

• I had to figure out what to do with them when it got cold – – ??
• I had some plastic shelves so I put the window boxes of cuttings on the shelves, put the shelves next to the French door on the back deck and rotated them occasionally so both ends would get some sun. I bought some heavyweight clear vinyl (plastic?) from JoAnn’s and covered the shelves to make a “greenhouse.” My make-do greenhouse is in the back of my yard for storage now.

• I bought some heat mats, but found that it didn’t really warm up the plants. I bought some spongy floor mats and put it under the heat mats. I also put an instant type meat thermometer in each window box to make sure my babies weren’t getting too hot, or too cold. I don’t remember the ideal temperature. I did put the heat mats on a timer.
• Later, I put some fluorescent glow lights in each shelf and they were on the timer as well. The second year, I hung the grow lights inside the house, in the kitchen next to the French door.
• I kept them from drying out and misted them often.

Rooting Boxwood Bushes: Growing Boxwood From Cuttings
Used as hedges, edging, screening plants and accents, you can never have too many boxwoods. Read this article to find out how to get plenty of new shrubs for free by starting boxwood cuttings. Click here to learn more about boxwood propagation.

Moving the cuttings:
• My success rate was great – so I have been told – over 50% of my cuttings developed roots.
• I waited until July to plant the cuttings into pots. I could have waited another year if I wanted to.
• I used some sort of soil amendment for shrubs and put the cuttings that had roots into pots. (I didn’t realize that I should have added it to the topsoil, but used it full strength. I haven’t seen it lately and I don’t remember exactly what it was.) I ran out of pots so some of the cuttings were grouped together into one pot or shared larger flower pots.
• I watered them well, then watered them with some Miracle Grow Quick start.
• I put them in a shady, protected area along a fence and made sure that they didn’t dry out.
• In the winter I mulched around the pots with leaves.
• In August I would buy more “Mommy” plants and start the process over again.
• I bought some used pots from a private nursery.

• I did this every year until 2012. I had breast cancer and was a bit busy with surgeries and chemotherapy. Watering all of the babies and the mommy plants during the summer took almost an hour a day. Thankfully my husband often took over the watering for me. (I am fine, now, by the way.)
• I had about 300 babies, and about 40 mommy plants (I think.)

Planting: September 23, 2015. The area does not have full intense sun.
• I needed a flat area, and I needed the soil to drain. Boxwood do not like to have soggy feet. My backyard is quite marshy during the winter. I hired a landscaping company to build a retaining wall and bring in some topsoil for a raised garden. They upgraded the topsoil to garden soil. They also put the rocks around the raised garden for me. Nice!
• I read where I should place the boxwood farther apart and wait (forever) for the plants to fill in. I wondered how the formal gardens in Europe and England were planted. We went to visit my brother who was living near Paris and visited Versailles. I wish I still had the picture I took – – I crawled on my knees to get a picture of the boxwood formal gardens at ground level. The boxwood were planted closely together.
• Some of the boxwood roots were a bit rootbound so I cut off the roots (so I could get them out of the pots) then “teased” the roots out before I planted them.
• I used some plastic lattice to help me lay out the garden and hired a friend to help me plant. It took us about a day to plant the raised garden (the hearts.) I don’t remember if we used the Quick Start fertilizer or not. We did not add any other fertilizer, or fertilizer mulch. I hired some neighbor kids and we mulched with small bark nuggets. I was beginning to feel my age.
• I did not plant the border boxwood as I had standing water problems. The next summer, I dug some trenches that sloped down the hill under where the boxwood would grow. I dug a pit (a sump) at the end of my trenches and put some concrete blocks covered with landscape fabric. I still have a few spots that do not dry out very well, but the boxwood are thriving.
• I used the mommy boxwood for short hedges along the back of the house, along my girly shed, and the border around the knot garden. Since I had large and small boxwood, I made a crenulated design.

How long did installation take?
• Planting the boxwood did not really take that long – about a day. Getting the area ready, and growing the cuttings to a healthy size took years. I could have spent a lot of money and bought the boxwood, but I enjoyed taking the cuttings.

Biggest Challenge: Making the area drain well was the hardest part.

Maintenance? Trimming? Fertilizing?
• Washington State has dry summers. I need to water the knot garden for at least 4 hours once a week. There is one corner, near a large fir tree that needs to be watered more often.
• Two years ago (August 2018) I trimmed the knot garden for the first time. Last August I hired my friend and we gave it a more intense “haircut.” We will refine it more as it grows in. Picking up the trimmed pieces is the hardest part of trimming. Any mistakes we make will always grow out, given time. The knot garden is less work than mowing. Boxwood are slow growing plants.
• I put medium bark nuggets around the boxwood to help prevent weeds, but there is some weeding that needs to be done. I need to clean off falling leaves and branches in the fall / winter. The pictures I just took show leaves and branches that should be cleared off.
• I have used the Kellogg Organic Grow mulch around, but not touching, the base of the plants in the spring for the first three years. The plants seem to appreciate it.

Advice? Find a design you love, then enjoy the process.

Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your garden! I can’t wait to start propogating my boxwoods!: )

Just in time for Mother’s Day

Looking for pretty gift that you can have sent to your mom for Mother’s Day? How about some pretty stationery featuring a lovely rose topiary with a matching soap and linen guest towel? Click here for ordering information.

Or perhaps something with a lemon/citrus theme for the kitchen? Click here for ordering details.

Even a pretty box of thank-yous because we all have so many people to thank, uplift and encourage these days…

Welcome Spring!

Overwintering Rosemary Topiaries

Rosemary Topiary

After selling topiaries at my shows for a number of years I’ve learned something… people are nervous about purchasing Rosemary plants for indoor use. And I’ve also learned… there is no reason to be! With a south facing exposure and a little attention you can have fresh rosemary on your windowsill all year long even in colder growing zones. I kid you not. It’s -12 wind chill here today. Eegads.

Shown above is one of a pair of rosemary standards that I brought home after the Devon Horse Show in May of 2013. The pair spent the summer planted in the potager providing garden structure as well as culinary deliciousness. This photo was taken soon after they were dug and potted up to bring indoors for the winter. I would recommend polyfoam or ceramic containers… terra cotta drys out much too quickly in a heated environment.

I LOVE the shape of these filled-out standards! They are gorgeous on either side of the fireplace. Generally they are kept in a south facing window with lots of natural light.

So, after some trial and error and a little “dried” rosemary over the years- here is my secret to overwintering Rosemary topiary.

  • Wait.
  • Soak with warm water.
  • Soak again.
  • Drain thoroughly.
  • Full sun.



I know, right!? Wait to water them until their new growth starts to show signs of wilting. They are a Mediterranean herb and the soil will need to dry out but they WILL give you a sign of when to water. When you perceive the new growth start to droop take them and soak them with WARM water. They need to be watered deeply, twice, drained and then given full sun.

I will admit- Rosemary is not terribly forgiving and you DO have to pay attention to them. But it is so worth it. The only time that I have ever killed (gasp!) a plant (I think) was when I put it in a place that I was not constantly buzzing in and out of. They all tell you when they are ready to be watered.

RIP my sweet bonzi ficus- though you looked so Zen by the bath tub I could not support your daily watering needs. If only you could have fit on the window sill in the kitchen- because we all know those dishes are a never-ending daily nirvana.


Do you have a south facing window in a place that you frequent? A perfect place for a Rosemary topiary! Looking for a yummy recipe to put those trimmings to use? Look no further! Tuscan Herb Seasoning one of my FAVORITE ways to use fresh Rosemary- perfect for meats and soups.

Do you have a favorite recipe that includes fresh Rosemary? Please share!


New Birthday Card Design

work of art cards

This little guy has been hanging around the studio for awhile. I’m so happy that he’s ready to start sending out those birthday greetings. The card reads: Happy Birthday   inside:  to a real work of art.   Hope your day is a masterpiece!

To order the “Work of Art” design or other charming topiary themed birthday cards click here.

Oooh La La… Paris Themed Cups

What a fabulous find! Could these cups be more perfect to pot a topiary in? As I have mentioned before, the theme for the 2011 Philadelphia Flower Show this year is “Springtime in Paris”. Little drawings of Paris landmarks surround the cup featuring a larger sketch of the Eiffel Tower!

I will have a limited number of these cups potted with angel vine topiaries for the show. If you will be attending and would like to pre-order please let me know. They will be $38.00. I think I have a total of 18 cups.  I will have other topiaries as well (rosemary, euonymus and hopefully myrtle)  but I am just crazy about the way these little sweeties turned out.

I am really liking the way things are coming together for the show. It’s fun to have a theme to work with. Now… back to work! Happy Fabulous Find Friday!  Michelle  : )

The Columbus Topiary Garden

Oh my, what an amazing amount of ground we covered over the past week. From Lake Ontario in New York State to the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana.

22 hours in the car one-way… I thought I would be a blogging fool.  Unfortunately, I needed the stars to align and pigs to fly before I could “write” in the car. Oh well. While surfing the web via my laptop in the car (Have I mentioned that I am married to the most amazing IT guy not to mention he’s also a charming and handsome farmer? What more can a girl ask for!)… ok. Back to the story.

While driving through Ohio I was reminded by of the unusual topiary garden on the grounds of the Old Deaf School in downtown Columbus. It was listed in their Columbus attractions as Topiary French People. Well, I’ve seen that garden over the years in magazines and I couldn’t wait to see it in person.  I love that Farmboy and the kids are always up for a detour.

This amazing garden was created by Columbus sculptor James T. Mason to mimic the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon On The Ile De La Grande Jatte” (1884-6) by French Impressionist painter Georges Seurat.  Farmboy was completely enchanted. The Bean yelled out while running in and out of the figures “It’s like we’re in the painting!”. What a treat and yes, those are my children running around Downtown Columbus in their pajamas. Please don’t call the Board of Parenting Fashion Police. What can I say, we left the house at 4 in the morning… at least they are wearing shoes.

Our timing seemed perfect to view the garden… almost planned. The sun was low in the sky, casting long shadows from the figures and accentuating the detail in their forms. It really was enchanting and I will always delight in the memory of seeing the kids running around the figures as if in a strange shrubby Other World.

Maurice and Geraldine

Introducing… Maurice and Geraldine- my boxwood topiary ducks. Shown below is their before and after pictures. The before picture was taken in the spring of this past year.  The after photo was taken just last week after their late summer trim.

Maurice is a bit sparse in the head and neck due to a teensie bit of winter kill. He lost his head last year and it’s slowly growing back in. Topiary challenges my patience. One must wait and be hopeful, trusting in the plants’ ability to fill in and reach towards the sun. Thankfully I have so many other things vying for my attention that I can just walk away and leave the growing to him.

My family lived in Dallas, TX until I was 4 yrs old. I had a lovely babysitter named Joy and she had two gigantic white ducks in her backyard named… you’ll never guess- Maurice and Geraldine. This is my little homage to them.

Maurice and Geraldine have their own pond that the dogs, Oliver and Gracie, think is their personal water dish. I don’t mind. The rain continually keeps it full. Do you have a Maurice and Geraldine or a Rocco and Henrietta– a favorite pet or animal that needs a presence around your home? Any chance that you have a boxwood or yew that you’d like to experiment with? Why not add a little whimsy to your landscape?

Shown above is a photo of a Korean boxwood that I have been growing right outside the entrance to the studio. I keep asking myself “what does it want to be?”  Strangely I hear “a teapot” but I’m trying to ignore that since I’m really not a teapot kinda gal… not that I don’t like my tea, mind you. I haven’t decided. But I do know that I’m getting ready to sculpt it into something… so stay tuned. What does it say to you? What kind of topiary do you think it wants to be?

For more information on growing boxwood check out the American Boxwood Society.

Camel topiaries?

But, of course! I have just completed an order of notecards, linen guest towels, sachets and beautiful pillows for the Newport Restoration Foundation featuring what else but three topiary camels.  I am very fortunate to be able to work with some wonderful organizations like the Restoration Foundation.

I was approached to do a design featuring the topiary camels (shown at top) on Doris Duke’s estate Rough Point in Newport, Rhode Island. The topiaries appear to be iron frames planted with soil, moss and various succulents.  They are replanted annually and “dressed” according to the theme of the awards presentation at Rough Point. They have even been known to wear pearls!

Shown above is a completed pillow and the coordinating notecards available for purchase through the Restoration Foundation. The accompanying information provided by the organization reads: The purchase of the items mentioned above will support preservation efforts organized by grants through the Newport Restoration Foundation in Newport, R.I. Along with funds raised at the annual Doris Duke Historic Preservation Awards celebration, this income assists community renewal projects such as brick and mortar restorations, garden revitalizations and planning seminars. Ms Duke’s adored camels, which lived at Rough Point, her home in Newport, have been reproduced in topiary form on the property. Each year they are appropriately accessorized for the awards presentation at Rough Point.

For more information on the Newport Restoration Foundation founded by Doris Duke please visit their website

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wishing you a little luck of the Irish today! Don’t forget to wear some green and for all things Ireland… stop in an visit my friends Cory and Liam at For more charming Celtic and Irish designs on stationery, fine linens and fine art prints- go to


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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Upcoming Shows

Philadelphia Flower Show
PA Convention Center
March 5th-13th
Booth #Z-1002

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