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Most topiary designs are best formed with the aid of a frame, although some simple shapes may also be cut freehand.

Using young topiary plants, select the stem or stems that will form the core of the design. The simplest shape to produce is a cone, which need only guiding canes. For other shapes, attach a framework made from chicken wire or single wires attached to stakes placed in the ground next to the main group of shoots. Tie in the stems to the wire framework and then pinch back the shoots to encourage them to branch and cover the form. Train new shoots into the framework to fill any gaps, until they meet around its perimeter. Growth will vary around the plant, depending on the aspect. Shoots trained downwards always grow slowly.

Large Ball Shaped Buxus Sempervirens

Frameworks for complex designs are now generally available, although you may decide to make your own basic framework from sturdy materials such as heavy-duty fencing wire. Chicken wire or thin-gauge wire may be intertwined to form a more precise shape. Garden canes are also useful as a temporary aid in developing and shaping a framework. Tarred twine is good for tying shoots onto a framework, since it eventually decays.

Young stems being trained onto a frame grow quickly and considerable work is thus required to tie in new shoots throughout the growing season. Tie in the shoots while they are young and pliable and check previous ties to make sure they are not broken, rubbing or in any way restricting the shoots. If stakes have been used in the framework, make sure that they are still and have not cracked, snapped or bent. If they are defective, replace them with the new ones.