Supporting plants in a timely manner has been one of members’ New Year’s resolutions on more than one occasion. I remember one reading: to support plants before they fall over!
But how to do it in a way that is both attractive and unobtrusive? In addition to which, you have to find the right materials. I have long been an admirer of the ‘birch halos’ used by Sarah Raven and at Great Dixter, for example, but had never attempted to create one.
This year I managed to find myself a pile of birch twigs and, inspired by the clear instructions in Arthur Parkinson’s book The Flower Yard, I had a go.
As you can see from the Antirrhinums, although not quite on the same level of skill, my efforts are doing the job and don’t look too bad!
I wonder what other attractive supports members have found for themselves?
I have spent some time over the past two days trying to protect the more tender plants I still have outside. The greenhouse is full and there is nowhere else for anything to go, short of bringing everything indoors! I therefore have varying layers of fleece and old sheets propped up with canes to keep them clear of the plants and all looking very ugly. With a weather forecast now predicting temperatures of -6 I have added blankets.
I look with envy to countries like Japan who so effectively seem to support their plants, making the supporting structure a thing of beauty in itself. The technique below is called yakitsuri and I first saw it in a Monty Don television series. This is designed to stop the weight of the snow from breaking the branches of the trees.
Similarly, the woven willow used to support border plants through the summer in our own gardens such as Great Dixter is not only functional, but looks nice.
When Pat and I visited in a brief respite from lockdown in 2020, to protect dahlias from slugs at Great Dixter, they had used sheep’s wool spread out over the soil at the base of plants. Where this was dark brown it worked, but the white sheep’s wool was not in the least appealing and detracted from the overall beauty of the borders.
(Photo NOT from Great Dixter, just an example.)
There is an art to protecting your plants in winter (or summer) in a way that looks attractive, or at the very least not as offensive as my own efforts and is which not damaging to the environment. I have yet to master it.