The landscaping around Linda's Bistro is beginning to get a bit more lively.

Linda Rooney, owner of the restaurant, is teaching herself the art of topiary which is a practice of taking live perennial plants and forming them into either a simple shape or something a bit more complex.

Currently, there is an ivy fox sitting on top of a bush in front of the restaurant. That's Rooney's first topiary piece and she said it took a total of 10 hours, spread out during a couple of days, to complete it. Another three hours went into the finishing touches like filling in any “bald spots,” Rooney said.

Rooney got involved in the topiary form last April.

“It just fascinated me,” Rooney said. “I had no idea what I was getting into or what was actually involved.”

Rooney researched the process and began purchasing the materials. She buys a frame stuffed with moss in the shape of the animal she wants to create. She then plants it with ivy that can be easily shaped as it grows. This is a more modern form of topiary. The more traditional way is to take a densely foliaged plant and trim it into the shape desired.

Once she finished with the fox, Rooney said she was quite happy with the final product.

“I was thrilled,” Rooney said. “I was absolutely excited.”

The fox was secured to half of a log and was put in place by Gonzolo Campos who helps Rooney with the yard work.

Rooney said several of her customers complimented the leafy work of art and found it to be quite neat.

Rooney is now going to work on a pig and will use ivy of two different shades to give it a spotted effect. She also would like to add a bunny, duck, chicken and maybe even a donkey.

Rooney said she prefers ivy because it's good to work with but she said there are a variety of plants that can be trimmed and trained.

Rooney suggests that anyone who wants to try the art must have patience because it can be a bit time-consuming and requires the basic knowledge of what plants need to grow and survive. She said topiary pieces need lots of watering and sun exposure.

The restaurant, established in 1998, offers a variety of wines and fine cuisine.

Linda's Bistro is located at 135 York St. S.E. and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. It's closed Sunday and Monday.

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