NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Two standard poodles keep Teresa Bennett company in her garden in Yorktown, Va. Black Jack and Red Baron romp while she weeds and follow her around while she walks her yard.

Now, the poodles and Bennett enjoy even more companionship in the yard: a cocker spaniel with a fetching face, or maybe a terrier with adorable eyes.

These dogs, however, don’t roam or run. Fashioned from wire frames, moss and small plants, they stand perfectly still, adding an artistic touch to the landscape.

A master gardener since 2001, Bennett, 56, recently launched a new business, Gardens & Accessories by Teresa.

Topiaries created with wire frames and plants are the prime focus of that venture. A gardener all her life, Bennett is always doing something with her love for nature.

Growing many of the sedums and other plants she needs for the topiaries, Bennett qualified for the “Virginia Grown” designation. She sells the topiaries at farmers markets and at a garden center near her home. In the spring, she plans to have topiary parties for people to choose frames, and stuff and plant them under her guidance.

“I picked one of the hottest days of the summer for my first venture into farmers’ markets, and, despite the heat, I loved the atmosphere, talking to people, explaining how the topiaries are made and the plants I use in them,” she said.

The topiary frames are welded metal, finished with a black powder coating to resist the elements.

“The frames alone are beautiful, unlike chicken wire that is flimsy and subject to rust, even when painted,” Bennett said.

“The other details come from the plants. I can change the look of the topiary by the plants I use. Ivy is an option, but by using a variety of plants, I create both color and texture, and really bring the topiary to life.”

The frames generally come in two sections, making it possible to stuff them with sphagnum moss.

To fill each frame, Bennett dampens moss in a container of water, and works with one handful at a time. She wrings out any excess water and first stuffs all small spaces in the topiary — ears, legs or tails, using a screwdriver or wooden garden stake to pack the moss in as tightly as possible.

After the small spaces are stuffed, she moves to larger sections, continuing to work with one handful of moss at a time, and again packing as tightly as possible. When the frame sections are filled, they are attached with zip ties.

“This is the messy part of the process and uses more moss than you would expect,” she said.

Then, she begins the fun, creative part — selecting plants that resemble the fur, feathers or skin of the topiary creature. Typically, she uses low-growing perennial groundcovers that are at least semi-evergreen in Hampton Roads.

“I like hens-and-chicks to create a turtle shell, or as a collar on a large dog,” she said.

“Dwarf mondo is great as a topknot on a poodle frame. Irish moss and wooly thyme make a great short fur. Acornus works as feathers on a duck.”

Sedums, however, are the main group of plants she uses on the topiaries. Sedums tolerate drought, often root where they touch, cover an area quickly and love the sun. They are ideal groundcovers for hot, dry spots.

After Bennett selects the plants for a specific topiary, she divides them into small sections and rises off as much soil as possible. Using her fingers or a wooden stake, she makes an indentation in the moss, then “shoe horns” the roots of a small plant division into the space.

She pushes the moss around the roots to hold the plant in place. She continues this process until plants cover one-fourth of the moss.

Bennett can create more than 130 different topiaries, including dogs, frogs, turtles, cats, rabbits, giraffes, seahorses, dinosaurs — even a life-size golfer. Prices start at $40 for a small frog or turtle; mid-sized topiaries run $70-$125; and larger ones like a Labrador retriever are more than $300.