Making garden art is another way to stay fit and active outdoors during the otherwise dormant months of winter.

Ever wonder what to do with all those logs left after the sick elms are cut down? You can use them for fuel, but some of the logs are too big to cut up easily. I love topiary, but it takes many years to sculpt a large one, so I’ve come upon a relatively instant way to do it.

My son started chipping away at this log a few years ago but didn’t get very far. It was taking up a lot of space in the workshop, so I got the chain saw out and made this, inspired by pictures of topiary in the english gardening magazines.

Simple geometrical forms suit me and the garden fine.

After forming them with the chainsaw and carving tools, I paint them with pine tar, giving them a beautiful brown black finish that smells of old time wooden fishing boats. Tar is an excellent wood preservative for boats and docks, etc.

I buy tar that is made in a natural process. It is produced by the destructive distillation of the wood and roots of pine. Some day I will try to make my own at home. It’s not too difficult if you do it small scale.

This is made from a birch log – not at all as good as elm.