How to Sculpt Plants a-la Edward Scissorhands

Posted by Kristina Pino

Do you look at bushes and shrubs and wish they were cut in the shape of a teddy bear or Hello Kitty? Do you also wish you had scissors instead of hands? If so, watch the scenes in Edward Scissorhands where he goes to town on everyone's front yards. Pure envy, right? In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create topiaries like a boss.


Step 1: Replace your hands with assorted blades, such as knives, scissors, and saws. 

Alternatively, you could purchase some shears, and perhaps a bit of wire or a pre-made wire frame. The key to getting this done is having the right tools at hand. Many basic shapes will be do-able with your basic shears and clippers, but more complicated ones might require some wire to reshape your tree the way you'd like, and in some cases you might even need a saw to trim limbs. Want to make a cone or honey pot-shaped topiary? You're probably good with just some shears. Want to make one of Edward's lovely ballerinas? You'll probably need some wire and other tools to get it done. Another benefit of using a wire frame is you can eventually get your tree to more-or-less grow into the shape the frame is in, with regular grooming and general maintenance. 


Step 2: Scope out your landscape for shapes and sizes

Sometimes you can look at an object and figure out what its "personality" is. Maybe there's a tree that almost, almost looks heart-shaped, and would be with just a little help from your shears. Maybe a tree is in a sort of hourglass shape and you're thinking Tinkerbell. Whatever the case may be, work out what shapes you need, start a plan, and trim away what you absolutely don't need. Once you've got some clean shapes going, it'll be easier to refine them into your final product. This is also the stage where you can use props as reference for extra things like limbs, tails, and accessories like wings on a fairy. Get an idea of where everything is going to be! 


Step 3: Add detail and watch your tree grow

Once you've got the general shapes worked out, it's time to add as much detail as possible. Again, if you're going for a simple shape, you'll probably bang this out in one afternoon. But if you're going for something more detailed, it's time to work out a frame for things like limbs, tails, and wings, and fix them on the tree. Then, as the tree grows over time, you can trim it and work it through your new frame. Water your tree regularly and make sure it's properly cared for, and you'll have a gorgeous topiary in no time at all. 

It isn't quite as simple as Edward makes it look in the movies, but it isn't really that difficult, either. With enough time and patience, you should be able to successfully create beautiful garden sculptures, too! What's your dream topiary?