The Jardin Birdcage Supports, shown here are among my new favorites. This huge peony plant is being supported by the largest birdcage, which is 48 inches in diameter.
Me with the 7-foot Essex Tuteur
Every year, toward the end of May, there comes a day when I can sit back and admire the gardens I care for — whether my own, or my clients — and give myself a little pat on the back. I feel immensely satisfied viewing the cleanly edged beds, newly mulched with leaf mold.
I naively think that I have done a magnificent job of pulling the whole together and expect things to continue to grow in a well-organized manner, for the rest of the season. I will simply need to pull a weed or two and apply a handful of fertilizer from time to time.
A few weeks pass and the gardens have become wild, eclectic jungles, with plants slithering along the ground or overwhelmed by their aggressive neighbors.
At this point, I pull all the flower supports from my extensive arsenal and get to work. I swear that next summer I will be better prepared, setting up supports in advance.
The Essex Plant Supports were the first to grab my attention a few years ago. I had been looking for a vase-shaped support that would lend itself to the natural growth habits of so many of my flowers. They keep my Shasta daisies, tall veronica, sedum and peonies standing elegantly, complementing their more diminutive neighbors without overwhelming them. I leave the supports right in the garden through the winter and they look lovely supporting dried sedum heads topped with snowy caps, or holding a steel gazing ball.
The tuteurs are the perfect support for the clematis that I’ve planted in the middle of my perennial garden to break the horizontal plain of the bed design. They allow me to use vertical space, serving the same function as a shrub or small tree without the degree of care these plants require.
I am most excited about the new Jardin Birdcages. I love the shape and the oxidized finish of the powder-coated steel. They have a real rural elegance. Every year I struggle to keep my baptisia, echinops and a few of the miscanthus upright as their tops grow heavy with flowers or seed pods. The Jardin Birdcages can be placed over these plants as soon as they break ground in the spring. They look appealing all on their own and do an excellent job supporting large, often unruly, perennials. They can also be left in the garden all year. Wrapped in string lights, the Birdcages will turn your winter garden into a fanciful wonderland. I left a tall variegated miscanthus standing last winter in the 48-inch Jardin Birdcage and covered both the cage and plant in tiny string lights. It was magical.
Of course, there will always be plants that flop, despite your best intentions. For these, I use the Essex Flower Stakes or the Jardin Spiral Stem Supports. Those Oriental lilies that appear a foot away from where you expected them are easily wrapped in a spiral or secured to a flower stake.
The Jardin Half-Round Plant Supports work well to corral anything that has grown larger than expected, or has been battered by heavy rain. Just lift the mass of collapsed flowers and foliage and tuck it behind one of the oxidized-steel supports, giving it the lift it needs.
Good garden design depends on color, texture and form. While plants provide unlimited choices for color and texture, I find the form component to be a bit trickier. The Essex and Jardin supports give me another way to build form in my gardens. They are elegant, rugged, functional and suitable to many garden styles. Think of them as the little black dress in the garden wardrobe. It is up to you how you accessorize.