Vertical Gardening: Up. Up. Up

There are lots of reasons to try vertical gardening. The most frequently mentioned is space, but even if you have plenty of room you might want to try it for aesthetic reasons. A vertical garden creates an attractive screen, a focal point similar to a painting on a wall, or shade.

Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to vertical gardening. One of the first times I encountered it was in reading Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. As the title suggests, space was the main concern in that book. Bartholomew lays out instructions for growing a number of vegetable garden crops vertically, including watermelon! He uses nets for the melons.

Some plants must be grown vertically for best results. Peas, cucumbers, some varieties of beans, and plenty of other vegetables — not to mention the many types of climbing roses —  require poles, stakes, or trellises. Our fence row is decorated with gorgeous (if invasive) morning glories every fall.

My own current efforts at vertical gardening include a grape arbor:

grape arborsome peas on an old cast iron gate (the pea plants are still tiny):

pea trellisand a structure for a sweet autumn clematis that appeared magically growing up a tree in my front yard last year (I haven’t moved the plant yet — just put together the structure):

clematis trellisBesides an indulgence of my unpredictable whims, all of these vertical structures are simply to provide interest in the garden. I worry about having too many plants that are roughly the same height — or the same color, or that bloom at the same time. (Sigh. The complications of haphazard gardening.)

Belle uses succulents in a really interesting vertical structure. The wooden structure creates a frame, and the succulents are a variety of color and texture. The whole thing looks like a work of art.

Regardless of how much space you have, you may want to try your hand at growing some plants up and up. The most important thing is to make sure your structure is sturdy enough to withstand the pull and tug of your plants. Before we built the grape arbor, our grape vines pulled down the flimsy gate they were growing on.

The Unmentionables

Garden SignNo matter how much I would like for the plants to look like their pictures, there’s always some with a mind of their own.

Let’s just get right down to one of the unmentionables.  Floppy plants.

How does one deal with it? One choice is to select varieties that behave, the other:
Plant cages and stakes, of course. How many plants are propped up in your garden?  If your garden is like ours, then most of the peonies have some form of support. So do some of the other perennials and, certainly, no respectable size tomato plant will be without a cage! There’s never enough supports around and eventually we just grab a stick, any stick and some rope to keep the unruly plants at bay.

If you’ve been down to the butterfly garden by the Tennessee Aquarium, you may have noticed the decorative plant supports designed and forged by Jeff. Surely, something along those lines on a little smaller scale could be a good fit for our humongous clump of Sedum Floppy Autumn Storm. So Jeff put his mind and arms to work. Last Friday, the UFO landed.  It’s perfectly sized and I love it.
And, it’s beautiful, don’t you agree?
Steel plant support

Merry Christmas – Shawl Pins

I have been thinking about blogging for a while.  Years actually.  I decided that today was going to be the day to begin.

You may want to know what was so special about today.  Let me tell you.

My husband and I have a passion for many things.  Gardening, knitting, blacksmithing, travel, long distance walking, and and and…..the list goes on and on.  Our china is mismatched and our stuff can kindly be called ‘eclectic’.  On the bright side, you could say that we specialize in collecting diverse experiences.
After careers in healthcare and education, our interest in gardening led us to opening a backyard nursery and creating an online store.
So what was so special about today?  On Christmas eve, we gifted one another with handcrafted joy and I want to share my delight.

I gave Jeff socks that i knitted and he gave me a set of 4 shawl pins that he had made for me.  These pins he had designed himself and made from stainless steel by hammering and shaping in a blacksmith forge.
They are awesome, see for yourself:
Stainless Steel Scarf Pins