Flower Garden Quick Fixes

Because the majority of my perennials are on their own when it comes to standing up, there’s often a need for quick in-season fixes. For this I keep two different bundles of bamboo stakes right on my front porch.

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Woven twigs create an artful support for rudbeckia.

These asters will enjoy two levels of support. The grid is formed with hardwood stakes and plastic netting, similar to our Nearly Invisible Netting.

Foam Twist Ties have a rubbery outside and a strong, galvanized-steel core. They’re gentle enough to tie plants to a support, and strong enough to lash bamboo or other supports together.

One of the many things that have impressed me about the public gardens of England and Scotland is the careful attention given to properly supporting perennials. The plants in their flower borders—be they delphinium, globe thistle, asters or perennial geraniums—almost always rely on a hidden undercarriage made from wire, steel or “pea stick” branches.

The ingenuity of these underpinnings was clearly revealed to me several years ago during a May visit to Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society’s flagship public garden located just southwest of London. Wisley’s 400 foot long double perennial borders are among the largest and most impressive in the world. Because it was still early in the growing season, most of the plants in the borders were less than a foot high, so it was easy to see the wide range of support systems that would soon be completely hidden by foliage.

After decades of maintaining those wonderful, 400-foot-long double borders, the staff at Wisley has no doubt settled on the ideal support for each type of perennial. The Gardener’s Supply selection of flower supports doesn’t offer quite that degree of specificity, but we do have a dozen different types of plastic-coated wire and enameled-steel supports. They’re all easy to install and do their job, while staying largely out of sight. For help selecting the best support for any given flower, read How to Choose a Flower Support.

Because the majority of my perennials are on their own when it comes to standing up, there’s often a need for on-the-fly, just-passing-by, in-season fixes. For this I keep two different bundles of bamboo stakes right on my front porch. In many cases, a couple of the little 3-foot-high canes are just enough. They’re only about 3/8” thick, so they slip into the soil easily and don’t call attention to themselves. When the situation calls for a burlier support, I use the thicker, 5-foot-high canes. Early in the season I cut some of them down to 3 and 4 feet so I can get the job done with the shortest and more unobtrusive stake possible. These canes are ¾” thick, so I sometimes use a rock or a shovel head to pound them in.

My perennial border fix-it corner also includes a pair of scissors, a ball of jute twine and some Foam Twist Ties. If you have some of your own in-season tricks to recommend, please leave a comment below.

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