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Garden-Variety Creations : Landscaping: Sculpted trees and shrubs have made a comeback. Popular shapes include deers, dolphins and horses.

June 29, 1991|VALERIE ORLEANS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"When trimming and maintaining the plant, you can grow out some areas more than others if you're looking for a different effect," Feldner said. "With some of the horses we make, the owners like to see a fuller chest. In that case, rather than letting the plants extend one or two inches, they grow them out three or four inches."

Although most of the topiaries he sells are planted in the ground, it is possible to keep a topiary in a pot. To ensure the health of the plant, it may need to be moved to a larger container every few years. Most topiaries also do well in areas that receive full sun. They also need to be well fertilized and adequately watered, Feldner said.

"Of course, it's common knowledge that a plant will do better if it's fertilized, but a lot of people seem to forget or overlook the importance of this simple step," he said. "However, if you're going to go to the expense of purchasing one of these plants, it's a good idea to remember to fertilize it regularly. Not only will it add to the life of the plant, it enhances the appearance, making a strong, good-looking conversation piece."

And they are conversation pieces.

"I don't have too many repeat customers," Feldner said. "Most people don't want more than two or three topiaries, but I get quite a few referrals because their friends see them and want one.

"What I especially appreciate about topiaries, is that they get better looking the longer you have them. They look pretty good when you first purchase them and then as they fill out, they just keep looking better."

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