All grown up

I think I might have an inkling of how parents feel when they realize that their babies have grown up. It seems like the garden is suddenly full of teenagers. I have to crane my neck to look at some of them and a few are clumsily in my way or gangly with giant feet and terrible posture. They need prompting and prodding to stand up straight just like I did when I was 14 going on 30. And same as then I still have crushes on the tallest… plants.

We’ve been diligently staking the dahlias all along, mostly by tying them to sturdy bamboo stakes. They’re so brittle and top heavy that it’s definitely easier to stake them long before they actually need it. In the cutting garden we use concrete reinforcement mesh, raised up on metal peony hoop stakes to help prop up the slouchers. – That system really works the best for plants that have been rowed out. And of course the trick with staking is hiding the stakes to make it look like nothing ever needed staking in the first place.

We used to lash burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia) against a fence to keep it from falling over and now that it’s out in the middle of the pollinator bed, I’ve tried sliding the beefiest bamboo stakes diagonally into the ground to give the stems something to lean on. I have to readjust the props almost daily especially if it’s been windy or rainy but I prefer the loose look of that to corralling the stems with string. It’s funny that they have such terrible posture given the grace and airiness of the flowers and how big their feet are (the larges foliage is at the base.)

And if I had remembered how big anise hyssop gets (we planted Agastache ‘Black Adder’ this year) I might not have placed it right next to the path. It stands up straight on its own but we’ve had to push it back with stakes (same method as the burnet) because it and its legion of bees are in everybody’s way.

Do you love the tall plants too? What do you do to improve their posture?

3 thoughts on “All grown up

  1. We had a lovely visit to Blithewold earlier this week. I fell in love with a small tree called “Harlequin Glorybower.’ Do you know where I could buy one to plant in my yard either in Massachusetts or in Florida–or in both? Thank you for your help.

    Lyn, Harlequin Glorybower (Clerodendrum trichotomum) is a beauty – just wait for the bright blue fruit! It’s hardy zones 6/7 – 9 and pretty aggressive so take a look around your neighborhood. Anyone who grows it will have seedlings/runners to give away. And if you can’t find it that way, Forestfarm (mailorder) lists it in their catalog. -kris

  2. My condolences- nothing worse than a huge dahlia plant taking the “low road” after all your preparation.
    I thought that I was SO diligent about staking the dahlias (and tomatoes, and peonies, and redbud seedlings and…), but it seems that THEY will decide how well and long they stay upright. Some of the winds and rain recently, plus just the height of the dahlias and enthusiastic growth of the tomatoes have caused collapses that defy correction without further damage.
    We won’t even discuss the “crowders” who are bloomimg too abundently to discipline. It’s my excuse to stay out of the garden beds.

    Next year will be different. I just know it will!

    Mary, You’ve got the optimism of a true gardener. And it sounds to me like your garden must be beautifully abundant! Amazingly, our biggest dahlia – that Creve Coeur is still standing! And in any case, sometimes when dahlias flop, new and interesting “low road” combos are born. -kris

  3. I wish my A. ‘Black Adder’ had been as vigorous. Agastache is really a zone 7 plant here. I’ve never had as much luck with it as it sounds you have.

    Susan, I apologize for my delayed response! This is the first year for Black Adder so we’ll see. I hope it comes back! I suspect it wants sharp winter drainage… But we’ve had the straight anise hyssop – or maybe ‘Blue Fortune’ reseeding for years. -kris

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