10 Dec2008


Some 6 or 7 years ago, I purchased three ivy topiaries in the shape of Christmas trees one holiday season. They were each about three feet tall and stunning, but with my black thumb, they were dead within 6 months and never made it to another Christmas. The ivy was a western variety or at least the more hybrid style topiary friendly ivy, not the more commonly seen ivy growing on your neighborhood cement walls. They had nicely shaped dark green leaves and they were trained up this iron base fitted onto a terra cotta pot. When the plants died, I had visions of planting other vines in the pots but that soon gave way to relegating the pots to the beach bodega for storage (where all the white elephants tend to end up)… Then a couple of weekends ago I also brought out some 15 sets of old Christmas lights that were of dubious quality and the simple but “bright” idea was to use the lights on the topiary frames to terrific results!


We used three strings of Christmas lights on each topiary (300 bulbs) and we could have used more to really make it tighter, but 300 seemed right to me.


A pair of topiary light trees were placed outdoors, and their reflections on glass doors and on the water made for a wonderfully simple yet festive effect. We normally don’t put any Christmas decorations out at the beach, but we were preparing for some balikbayan guests, long-time friends who we hadn’t spent time with in years, so we wanted the setting to be a little bit more festive and special…


The topiaries looked terrific and lit up dark spots in the outdoor seating aresa. And since they were made of “re-incarnated” or “re-cycled” lights and pots, they cost next to nothing.


The third topiary was placed indoors to equally good results. It’s a bit wonky to put a terra cota pot on a large wooden chest… but it still looked nice to me. And please, no comments about Rudolph’s antlers in the basket nearby… he slammed into our satellite dish last year and we saved his antlers as a memento of his visit (I am being mischievous…deer shed their antlers naturally by rubbing up against trees, then they grow new antlers the following season).



  1. sonia says:

    Recycling and with wonderful results! the reflection on the pool is so, so beautiful.
    i can imagine cocktails by the pool at dusk and a delightful dinner after.
    thanks for sharing your joys

    Dec 10, 2008 | 5:17 pm


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  3. Rico at Riza says:

    While the lighted topiaries all look good and all, I just want to say that that is one nice-looking chest (baul)! When I get my own house, I’m gonna buy myself one great baul!

    Dec 10, 2008 | 5:34 pm

  4. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Wow,the foregrounds and the backgrounds of the “topiary” lights look so romantic. Simple but looked elegant.That was a good idea MM.
    Maybe next eyeball should be at the beach house (hint hint). We could have an inihaw festival…hahaha…Cheers!! Bring labrador!!

    Dec 10, 2008 | 5:47 pm

  5. Angela says:

    Great idea! It looks simple and elegant. Photo #4 looks very inviting.

    I LOVE the chest!! I hope you don’t mind if I ask where you got it? Is that mother of pearl inlay? I’ve been looking for a chest like this for years with no luck at all.

    Dec 10, 2008 | 7:56 pm

  6. Mila says:

    heehee, Santa was tippling too much and poor rudy took the brunt of the bad sleigh driving…

    Dec 10, 2008 | 8:20 pm

  7. Mila says:

    Oops forgot to mention to Angela, lots of the chests with mother of pearl inlay are for sale in Zamboanga! In Manila you might want to check Balikbayan Handicrafts in Pasay Road, they may have one in the upper floors.

    Dec 10, 2008 | 8:22 pm

  8. zena says:

    Beautiful effects on the water. And the Rudolph story was funny. =)

    Dec 10, 2008 | 8:49 pm

  9. Angela says:

    Hi Mila-

    Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, I am based in Seattle and have no immediate plans to go to Zamboanga or Manila :(

    Might you know of any stores that sell online (or maybe willing to ship)?

    Dec 10, 2008 | 8:58 pm

  10. rose says:

    hi, isnt the plant that they use for this kind of thing is tsaang gubat?

    Dec 10, 2008 | 9:37 pm


    thank you mm for this post. am having my christmas party tomorrow and the area of the buffet table looks dark. i was thinking of putting xmas lights on the boganvilla along the fence but it will be very many. luckily i have 1 dead topiary like yours , it’s 8ft, so if i put it at the center of the buffet table it will be able to light up the area. problem solved and with panach.he he he

    Dec 10, 2008 | 9:55 pm


    excuse me to the environmentalist, am not lucky that my topiary is dead,it’s the post of mm that is timely and is the soution to my problem.

    Dec 10, 2008 | 10:09 pm

  13. dhayL says:

    brilliant idea! i love the reflection of the topiaries in the water!

    Dec 10, 2008 | 11:27 pm

  14. kate says:

    wow, these are beautiful! thank you for sharing this wonderful idea :)

    Dec 10, 2008 | 11:35 pm

  15. tnm says:

    you’ve just given me a great idea, mm. have the same trees made of gold tinsel in the garage. will put lights on them, and put them by the fireplace. thanks!!!

    Dec 11, 2008 | 1:02 am

  16. corrine says:

    Whooo! Nice idea! Me try too…

    Dec 11, 2008 | 1:22 am

  17. Maria Clara says:

    With your two houses fully decked with Christmas decor looks like it will be a super duper busy Christmas for MM, Family and Crews. That’s what Christmas is all about I believe share the joy, laugher and blessings!

    Dec 11, 2008 | 2:16 am

  18. k. ramos says:

    I love that 4th photo, reflections and all.

    Dec 11, 2008 | 2:27 am

  19. sister says:

    Pretty good idea- I just saw some ivy topiaries at the 28th Street flower market this morning. We have temp. in the 60’s F today in NYC so I’m rushing around doing errands before the cold front comes in tomorrow. Poinsettas have been delivered and my Fraser fir tree follows tomorrow. I could never live in a place with no delivery available…

    Dec 11, 2008 | 4:01 am

  20. mardie c",) says:

    hehehe….even the antlers are recycled. Al Gore will be proud of you MM.

    Dec 11, 2008 | 8:44 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Angela, I wouldn’t recommend these types of chests for the U.S. as they tend to crack in winter dry weather…

    Dec 11, 2008 | 8:50 am

  22. terrey says:

    galing galing naman….very nice, super pretty!

    Dec 11, 2008 | 10:14 am

  23. mely says:

    They are gorgeous Mr. MM! Those tomato cages will work too,except they are a little flimsy but you can double them and string some lights around. They look good on the pathways.

    Dec 11, 2008 | 10:46 am

  24. Lee says:

    Hi everyone since this entry is about topiaries I would like to share with you a recent blog entry by marketmanila regular and lechon eyeball attendee toping.



    Dec 11, 2008 | 2:03 pm

  25. Angela says:

    Thanks for sharing that link, Lee!

    Dec 11, 2008 | 2:53 pm

  26. Maki says:

    you got a really nice house MM

    Dec 11, 2008 | 4:51 pm

  27. toping says:

    Thanks for the plug, Lee! I got the photos from Tots. There’s more on his own blog:


    MM, thanks for the topiary tip! It would add a nice touch to our small garden…

    Dec 11, 2008 | 10:30 pm

  28. Jun says:

    It really feels christmas on a cold winter night…A perfect picture moment…nicely done!!! Having MM and Mrs MM having a candle light dinner will complete the setting.

    Dec 11, 2008 | 10:42 pm

  29. lee says:

    toping’s topiary

    Dec 12, 2008 | 7:01 am

  30. RoBStaR says:

    am curious about the last pic’s background… isn’t that a solid wall? why is there an image reflecting on it… just curious.

    Dec 12, 2008 | 12:58 pm

  31. Marketman says:

    RoBStaR, it is a large glass door with a pull down shade in front of it. That’s the sunset in the background…

    Dec 12, 2008 | 1:06 pm

  32. Dexter says:

    Hi Angela, this may come a rather bit late, but I wonder if you are still thinking about those bauls with mother of pearl inlays? I may be able to help as I am trading these pieces – I’ve got several really good designs – ranging from small jewelry boxes to large, antique ones.

    Nov 18, 2009 | 11:00 am


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