Good staking is one of those jobs I never get round to, like cleaning the oven or scrubbing mud off running shoes. Despite being inspired by Arne Maynard’s willow basket method of staking of roses and perennials I never seem to get organised in time. So, when I noticed that a local farm had cut down a small pussy willow tree I asked for some of the branches, and they kindly let me go round with the secateurs and bring home a big bundle of twigs. This was just a young tree and the thinner branches only two to three feet long, not ‘proper’ long willow withies, which limited what I could do. But an evening of experimentation later I turned out four of these supports.
First I made a circular ‘wreath’ with twisted longer sections, and then criss-crossed with shorter sections to form a grid. This was tied to stout legs hammered into the ground around the plant so the new shoots can grow through. Not the most elegant workmanship but they will soon be hidden by foliage. I have put them over my sedums, which always flop, and a cranesbill and eryngium (sea holly) which tend to lay across the lawn after a rainstorm. As growth has taken off I’ve realised they are far too small. Next year they need to be steering wheel, rather than dinner place sized!
In other recycling news, I can never resist a skip, and the very nice people down the road said I could help myself to anything I wanted from theirs. Once I had fished out the planks I’d been eyeing up for an ongoing project (more later), I found these rather lovely Victorian edging tiles. Rescued from landfill, they make a nice finish to the lettuce bed and stop the soil from creeping down into the pond. Don’t you just love a bit of skippy dipping?
Germination is at full tilt and I’m rapidly running out of windowsills. The delphiniums have been pricked out and seem happy in the conservatory (see Delphinium blues), and my new Aldi cloche is crammed with sweet peas, ammi and cosmos, all hardening off. I’m particularly pleased that these cuttings of Hydrangea Annabelle have taken. They were from a friend’s plant that I pruned in the autumn, and they looked dead for months until shoots began to emerge. Always be suspicious when a gardening friend offers to do your pruning; they usually have an ulterior motive!