Supporting Roles in the Garden
heartfelt passion has its control issues and gardening is no exception.
Nurseries and garden centers stock elaborate devices for staking, tying up
plants, trussing tomatoes, and restraining plant growth. But, put these gadgets
in place when they should be – that is, well before plants burst into growth – and
the garden quickly starts looking like a scantily-clad, pretty girl wearing
only foundation garments; it’s hard to see anything but the support.
the other hand, anyone who has tried to right a toppled delphinium after a
summer cloudburst or revive flattened peonies after a stiff wind – or a dog – has
swept through the garden knows it’s almost impossible to navigate crowded beds
without doing more damage than you set out to repair. The resulting tangle of
twine, sticks and awkward plants-in-bondage paints a picture every bit as
painfully self-conscious as half-naked artifice.
attractive easy to assemble garden structures that attractively stake, prop and
gently guide plants while never stealing the spotlight from the beautiful
garden starlets they support. As an encore, these simple structures provide
valuable vertical growing space for plants that might otherwise smother the
ground and steal the scene.
Flowering Annual Vines of Summer
to grow, lush foliage, bountiful blooms and nearly instant impact all in a
single growing season – what’s not to like?! Here are some of my favorites:
Canary climber (Tropaeolum
peregrinum) Fluttery dark yellow flowers really do resemble little canaries
clinging to stems clothed with serrated bright green leaves. Grows 8 to10 feet
in partial shade to full sun.
Cardinal climber aka hearts
& honey (Ipomoea × multifida) Tiny, vivid crimson trumpet
flowers attract hummingbirds when nothing else will on this vigorous morning
glory cousin. Grows 10 to 20 feet in full sun.
Climbing nasturtiums (Tropaeolum
majus) Funnel-shaped blooms in shades of orange, red, and yellow reliably
swathe scrambling vines all summer long. Grows 6 to 8 feet in partial shade to
full sun. Bonus, both leaves and blossoms have a peppery watercress flavor and
are delicious in salads.
Cup & saucer vine (Cobaea
scandens) Pale creamy green flowers develop violet stripes on their way to
becoming deep purple “cup and saucer” blooms. Grows 8 to12 feet in full sun.
Exotic love or Spanish
flag (Ipomoea lobata)
Multicolored spikes of blossoms change in a rainbow-like progression from red
to orange, yellow, and cream set off by deep green lobed leaves. Grows to 15
feet in full sun.
Morning Glory (Ipomoea
purpurea) Saucer-shaped flowers in the colors of a summer sky are produced
anew each morning on this old-fashioned cottage garden favorite. Grows 8 to10
feet in full sun. Not to be confused with nasty bindweed, a noxious weed.
Purple hyacinth bean (Dolichos
lab lab) Large pendant racemes of purple or white flowers stand out from
dusky, heart-shaped leaves followed by curious dark-purple bean pods with a
metallic sheen. Grows to 10 feet in partial shade to full sun.
Scarlet runner bean (Phaseolus
coccineus) Brilliant sprays of scarlet blossoms, another hummingbird
favorite are produced from mid-summer to frost on vigorous twining vines. Plump
meaty pods swell with “magic beans” beautifully marked with hot pink and black
– possibly Jack’s original beanstalk! Grows 10 to 12 feet (quickly) in full
Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features,
Containers, Lighting & More
by Lorene Edwards Forkner, Timber Press 2011.
Lorene Edwards Forkner presented workshops at the Puyallup, Wash. 2012 MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.