A cunning plan for your cutting garden

I didn’t realize as I hastily took this shot (on my way to our group photo for the Garden Bloggers Fling in Washington D.C.) that I was looking at a clever gardening technique. It simply seemed like a handsome steeple in the sweet spot of a colourful garden.

It’s the outer edge of the cutting garden at Hillwood Estate Museum & Gardens, and when you zoom in via the pictures below, you might see what finally caught my eye. Go ahead, click a picture for a larger, sharper view. Then come back and we’ll talk.

It’s plastic or nylon netting, staked at the corners and stretched over every bed in this huge garden. The netting can be as low as you like when the seedlings or seeds go in, then shifted up the stakes as the plants grow – all to support the stems and keep them straight. It’s like peony rings on a grand scale. Brilliant or what?

Since then, online research shows that you wouldn’t have to use white netting, if its eye-catching colour among the pink sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) offends you. Green or black netting is available. I didn’t measure the squares, but eye-balling the pictures suggests they’re about 6″ or 15 cm.

At intervals, bamboo teepees (more properly tipis; see James Harbeck’s story and explanation on his Sesquiotica site) help support both the netting and tall or vining plants like the appropriately named glory or flame lilies (Gloriosa superba).

Let me just sit here for a minute and imagine having all this room for a cutting garden, of which this shows only a part. The Microgarden is sadly deficient in both space and sunlight, but I can dream. Your suburban or country garden might have more room, and I’ll promise to love you anyway. You deserve all those cut flowers!

After you’ve spent some quality time with the bee in the larkspur (Consolida ambigua), note how they’ve added a horizontal board in some cases to pull the netting tight.
And this is my answer to my friend Marie of the From Our Island blog who wondered how they kept the drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) from flopping over. Cunning, don’t you agree?

10 comments

  1. I’ll definitely be using that ingenious technique in my garden – in fact, I already have the netting in green. Biodegradable string or rigid metal remesh work much better than this did in the veg garden to support climbers, so it’s been sitting in the shed unused for a couple of years now. I’m so glad I hung on to it!

  2. Very cunning. I can’t even imagine having all of those flowers to choose from for a floral arrangement. Fantastic.

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