Topiaries have always fascinated me and I've wanted to get involved in the art of topiary but I was limited by two things. My first limitation came from the fact that when I first became interested in them I was in college and inside of an apartment there wasn't much room for a dinosaur shaped evergreen. The second thing that hampered my interest in them was the fact that topiary frames are very expensive.
Then one day I came across The Complete Book of Topiary and it changed my ideas of what topiaries were and opened up many possibilities. The Complete Book of Topiary by Barbara Gallup & Deborah Reich has to be my favorite book on the subject of creating topiaries. It does a good job of covering the history and lore of the art and provides great indoor and outdoor gardening projects that anyone can follow along. If you're bored with your houseplant collection or want a unique way to display your houseplants borrow this book from your local library and turn your houseplants into tabletop topiaries. Creating some of the topiary frames in the book would be a good way of passing the upcoming winter or involving kids with gardening.
The book has many great ideas and instructions on making topiary frames but being the frugal gardener that I am I was looking for a ways to reduce the cost of the materials (mainly the wire) and time in creating them. Then one day I was in a store around Easter and noticed the decorations for the holiday were really just wire frames (similar to topiary frames) covered in dried grape twigs. I realized that these decorations you see around the holidays can be used as the basis for table top topiary and if you wait long enough it can cost you much less than a real topiary wire frame. I waited for Easter to pass and picked up the rabbit frame you see in the picture for a dollar and removed the grape twigs and beads with a good pair of scissors so I was left with what is essentially a rabbit topiary frame.
If you look carefully in your favorite stores you can find all kinds of topiary frames hiding inside of these decorative items. I see stores currently have cornucopias and pumpkins and if they're stocking Christmas decorations already you'll find trees, cones, stars, obelisks and reindeer. To minimize rust cover the metal with florist tape or something like Rust-Oleum.
If you want to turn your cheap topiary frame into a more expensive looking stuffed topiary frame then you can cover it with chicken wire or another wire mesh. Then stuff it with sphagnum moss and your plants. I'm going to going to be even more frugal and just anchor this rabbit frame into a hanging basket of ivy and train the stems over the wires.
You can even use larger pieces to create topiary shapes in your garden. My neighbor was tossing her outdoor Christmas decorations and I was going to pick up the reindeer wrapped in Christmas lights and cut off the antlers and create a topiary dog in my garden. Unfortunately, the local scrap metal collector got to it before I did but in the spring I'm sure I'll come across more.