Sunday, 5 February 2012

A little support

Providing support is always a tricky business.  Too little, and things fall flat and full potential isn't reached, too much (or too late), and things will look constrained and strictured.  I have a bad tendency not to stake things sufficiently early in the season, so I've been looking through my photo albums to get some inspiration.  Hopefully this will spur me into action in good time this year, and my garden will benefit from getting just the support it needs!

The best type of support is when there is no intervention at all, such as here at Crathes Castle, where a yew hedge provides the back drop for a splash of vibrant red,  from a perennial tropaeolum.

Or here, where a self clinging Boston Ivy was decorating the ancient stone walls of the idyllic house we rented in Provence a couple of years ago.

Of course, the more walls you have, the more options you have as supports.  For example, the imposing red sandstone walls of Glamis Castle are the perfect spot for a streak for burgundy foliage
And here, again at Glamis, on a more intimate scale, trellises of roses soften the stonework

At Duff House, a lovely Georgian mansion near Montrose, there are wonderful examples of espalier adorning the protective walls of the flower gardens
I was less keen on these arching supports at Duff House....a bit 1970s looking to my eye

But I think this example, of golden hops covering a series of arches, in order to highlight the lovely stone font at the end, works perfectly.  When we visited the gardens at Crathes Castle in late July, the yellow/gold/chartreuse coloured section of the garden looked spectacular.

Ropes can be used to good effect.  Here at Threave Castle Gardens, in Dumfries and Galloway, even naked, they look really good (more than can be said for the poor box hedges, which must have been damaged by a series of bad winters 

Here, at Cruickshank Botanical Gardens, in Old Aberdeen, ropes support lovely climbing roses.  When in bloom, they must form wonderful cascades of flowers.

Even when not in full bloom, the ropes add interest.

Herbaceous borders need careful planning, first to place plants appropriately according to height, and then to engineer an appropriate staking system.  Looks perfect here, at Threave.

And another perfect example at Crathes.
And here are the mechanics behind it....I know I've blogged about this before, but I think it's such a great system!

I crafted twig supports like these last year for my peonies, and they worked really well.

These sturdy examples are from Threave - mine were much less robust, but did the job.

In my own garden, I covered up the garage with a cheap trellis from Ikea, which supports a lovely white clematis, which flowers in late spring...... 
....and then is smothered in glorious New Dawn roses in late June.


  1. What a wonderful tour! How many wonderful places you have seen... I agree that the best type of support is when no support is needed :) Thank you for the delightful pictures.

  2. Love your peony supports... definitely worth a try.

  3. What an enjoyable journey with splendid pictures. I think by the look of it the Box hedge at Threave has been attacked by the dreaded box blight. Did you see the excellent specimen of the Acer Griseum at Cruickshanks Botanic gardens.

    1. I had never even heard of box blight before - from the images I've seen elsewhere, I think your diagnosis is quite correct Alistair. What a scurge! I can't see any evidence that it's rife in Ontario as yet, so fingers crossed that my plants will be safe. I had to look up Acer Griseum too....only to discover that I had missed this highlight of Cruickshank Botanical Garden. This blogging lark is such an education, and I'm happy to learn!