Wednesday, September 30, 2015

All the Wobbly Bits

I once read an article about a gorgeous garden that was accompanied by a photo showing every plant perfectly positioned and well behaved. There was no slouching, leaning, or canoodling. There were no secret smooches between the flirty pink zinnias and that broad shouldered basil. If that garden were a party, they'd be drinking milk and playing bingo. Underneath those high collars and long skirts, those dames were trussed to the hilt. Stakes, wires, and cages kept every one upright, uptight, and totally in line. Meanwhile, back at the Casa, most of my garden was going commando.

Don't get too close! You could poke an eye out!

While that wasn't a problem for the plants whose wobbly bits were still quite small, one of my favorites needed some help. Blessed with the type of buxom beauty other perennials can only dream about, 'Blue Fortune' agastache needed something that would keep the girls perky and immune to the perils of gravity. It needed to be comfortable but attractive, with a bit of ooh la la that would reveal a touch of something special when her shoulders were almost bare. If she was going to end her free-wheeling naked days, she needed to look good doing it.


A custom made wrought iron plant support from Battle Hill Forge was added last winter to give the agastache a sturdy frame to help hold up the weight of her summer growth. It's hidden under all the foliage.


With the plant no longer leaning on the ground, I had enough room to add helenium 'Tie Dye'.


I placed these around the plants in the winter before the ground froze. Curly fiddle head finials give them a bit of flair. 


'Blue Fortune' agastache is one the top pollinator attracting plants in my garden. The beautiful blue blooms were past their peak in these photos but the bees weren't giving up. 


It's easily grown in full sun in slightly moist soil. 


$10 says she pops a seam when she stops holding her breath.


I'd pulled out a mountain of mist flowers before I took this picture. I found the asters in the middle.

But at the top of the Sunnyside bed, things had gotten totally out of hand. An invasion of blue mist flowers combined with a lack of pruning left my struggling 'Monch' asters overflowing their cups and spilling the goods onto the neighboring plants. The plant support I'd given them was the equivalent of a botanical bikini but they needed full support. The girls were floppy, bouncy, and in the way.


'Monch' asters are a bit floppy and need to be pruned by half in early summer. Ooops....



After cutting back the aster, I added another plant support from Battle Hill. The metal grid will help keep the asters from flopping but the open middle will allow them the lush looseness that I enjoy. If I don't need both grids, they're removable and can be used on other supports they've made. My garden's free-wheeling hippie days might be coming to an end for a few plants, but at least they're going out in style.


Welcome to the garden, darling!

88 comments:

  1. Beautiful. I like your aster, they are really reminding me into my childhood. We had a similar wild aster like yours, that grown naturally in front my parent house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love my aster, too. It will look even better next year when it's not laying on the ground. :o)

      Delete
  2. You draw such fun comparisons. Agastache Blue Fortune looks great with her new supports. I added Blue Fortune this year and then went back recently for a few more because they thrive where other agastache have failed.

    Blue mist invasion is a good description, they take over everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. :o) I do feel like I've put a few of my plants in bras but that's not such a bad thing. Plant support stores are the Victoria's Secret of the gardening world.

      Delete
  3. Hi Tammy, "My garden's free-wheeling hippie days might be coming to an end" chuckle, I guess that is one of the typical Tammy sentences :-)! The. 'Blue Fortune' agastache is quite pretty. I was looking for agastaches recently in the local nurseries, but couldn't find any :-(. Maybe it is really time to shop in online nurseries. The plant supports from Battle Hill look sturdy and like that they might work well. I have seen similar once used in the English gardens that I visited and the plants supported with them looked very natural and not awkwardly tidy.
    Wishing you a wonderful autumn!
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always think I would have made an excellent hippie, just a cleaner, more organized hippie than the usual. These are custom made wrought iron supports that are just incredible. I highly recommend the company. :o)

      Delete
  4. Those look like great plant supports! Thanks for the chuckle over your comparisons. I have a lot of floppy plants too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind a bit of flopping but the girls were dragging in the dirt.

      Delete
  5. I'm always struggling to get the proper support late in the game. As goes the gardener, so goes the garden...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trying to get any kind of support around a late summer plant is a challenge. I had to cut the aster back by half just to get the old support off and then I cut it back even further to get the new one on. I like being proactive so I'm hoping this solves the problem.

      Delete
  6. I have some plant supports that look like a less ornate version of your first photo. I have been on the hunt to find more of them but with no luck. I find this type of support really easy to use as you just tuck it under a flopping plant and voila. (I don't often get the support in place prior to the flopping) I can certainly see the added benefit of the grid work - well done. It looks like you still have a fair bit of colour in the garden. It has been dry here so everything is closing up shop. Kind regards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had several weeks of dryness but have had a lot of rain lately. The area in the photo is close to the rain garden so it always looks pretty well watered. These supports have been incredible and I don't have to worry about them collapsing like the crappy Made in China ones I have. I can only use those with my smaller, less top heavy plants.

      Delete
  7. I love your plant support, Tammy.I should have it, because I'm tired to do support of sticks, tying them. I think these ones of metal are heavy and expensive, aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! They're hand made and designed according to my request so they were more expensive than anything at the store but I feel they are well worth the money.

      Delete
  8. I love your garden, it looks full and bountiful and your plant supports are lovely in their own right. Your post made me laugh as always!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great plant supports, I used to put alder branches around the plants in the border in early spring, but I got bored of it, so the last few years it's a chaos. I have some of these wire supports, but that's not enough.......sigh. And by the way, your comparisons are good for a good laugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I thought of using a photo of a corset but it didn't work as well since these supports are designed with breathing room. But all their bits are now well supported. :o)

      Delete
  10. Hm...I'm adding some blue mist flowers to the garden this autumn (partly on your recommendation).

    Guess I should gird for the invasion? :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yours will be growing in much drier soil than mine so they probably won't spread as far. That might be a good thing! But I let mine take over a bit because they're so beautiful. :o)

      Delete
  11. Great comparisons! I usually just let all of the plants lean and flop about, but those plant supports really do hide the wobbly bits. Blue fortune is a great agastache - it's hard to beat those late-summer blue spikes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I just can't pass up an opportunity to use a vintage photo of a woman in a bullet bra in a post. My Blue Fortune is one of my favorite plants. :o)

      Delete
  12. Gravity is certainly taking its toll here. I've made notes, thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I may have Battle Hill make my next bra. ;o)

      Delete
  13. You may be something of a party pooper but the kids will thank you once they see the error of their ways.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Instead of being a party pooper, I like to think I'm classing the joint up! ;o)

      Delete
  14. Brilliant post. You had me a little nervous with the opening picture and title, but I should have known better...
    My garden likes to go commando as well. I'm too uptight for it but who knows, people can change!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Most of my garden is completely commando and I'm always convinced there's a bit of "Guess what I'm not wearing?" going on when the sun goes down. That would explain all the seedlings....

      Delete
  15. A good underwire is a good thing although they do kind of dig. Anyway I'm glad that your ladies will have the support that they need to make them perky and vibrant again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you speak from experience. ;o)

      Delete
    2. That was just a silly rumor! Really. Who told you that? Okay, so maybe once in college but I didn't inhale...

      Delete
  16. Ha! Yes, supports can be helpful for many reasons! My garden next summer will have more supports than I've ever had before. Long story ... maybe I'll post about it, maybe not. ;-) I have to chuckle when I hear people say Blue Mistflower takes over. I have to protect mine with lava rocks, and Alliums, and chicken wire, and any rabbit repellents I can think of just to keep them going. I think I just might have a system going now. The plantings look rather lopsided this fall, but hopefully they'll look more respectable next year. Don't you just love Agastache foeniculum?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is funny that your mistflower requires so much protection. Mine would take over the entire garden if I let it. I do love my agastache. I don't think I've ever met an agastache I didn't love. :o)

      Delete
  17. When I was very young I would watch as my grandmother got into her whalebone corsets- the process of lacing was done with much concentration and solemnity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What misery! I don't know how they wore those sadistic contraptions all day.

      Delete
  18. Hi Tammy I know school has started back and you're busy so it's good to see this post.
    I had no idea that these iron plant supports existed...just what the doctor ordered for the agastache...will definitely seek these out for a few of my floppy plants too.
    My garden is looking a bit crappy at present but these will help me to tidy up a bit more...thanks for posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been busy. I wanted to post this a few weeks ago but Battle Hill Forge is a popular business and they were very busy with all their orders so I had to wait for them to finish these. They were worth the wait. :o)

      Delete
  19. I love agastaches and your blue one is very pretty. Your wrought iron corsetry seems to be doing the trick, I could do with some myself. I mean my plants could. By this time of the year everything has reached maturity and gravity has taken over. I use bamboo canes which are so cunningly concealed that I risk losing an eye every time I do want weeding. Iron corsets, that' s the way forward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read an article about women wearing corsets again to shape their waist and I though ti was insane! My supports are open in the middle so the plants can breathe and just slouch a bit if needed. But I had to get them off the ground. The asters looked like a pile of spaghetti.

      Delete
  20. These plant supports are so pretty, it's almost a shame to hide them under plants! They certainly did the trick with your agastache, though. That reminds me that I saw no sign of my blue agastache this year--darn, one more mysterious disappearing plant in my garden. I had to laugh at all the ads here--I vividly remember wearing girdles, um foundation garments, when I was younger, which is kind of ridiculous because I was a whole lot skinnier than I am now. Thank goodness those days are over:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the one with the asters will still show a bit, which is fine with me. I'd love to see those finials poking through the flowers. I think the modern version of a girdle is Spanx, which is pretty stretchy. The bullet bras just crack me up. They remind me of the FemBots from Austin Powers.

      Delete
  21. Now those are some plant supports! We dug out a lot of junk in the front garden too this summer and I was surprised to see what lingered beneath it all gasping for air, wanting sunshine and bees--my beautiful star gazer lilies. I will never have a neat or perfect garden, but we try, don't we?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will admit to having a neat garden but nothing is ever perfect. Perfection is more of an idea than a reality. Keeping the asters and a few others well supported gives the surrounding plants room to grow.

      Delete
  22. Ah yes, those wobbly bits! I know all about those thank you very much-:) We don't do too much staking around here except for my six foot tall dahlias. They have heavy heads, beautiful babies, and need a little help. Otherwise, everybody is doing some flopping around as the season comes to an end. I have tried that one iron half moon-shaped support for my Japanese Anenomes, which become very tall and leggy, but it is only to keep them from falling into the grass. Otherwise, I like the tumble in the fall, it has its own beauty. On another subject, I remember girdles, ai yi yi. What a ridiculous thing, especially, like Rose above, I wore them when I was very slender--what was i thinking?!? That was when I was in business and also wore high heels. Now I pray the price for those beautiful heels with a big, fat bunion on one foot! For every action, there is a reaction. Glad those days are long over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love heels but have managed to escape any bunions. Your anemones must be in a moister spot than mine because mine aren't lush enough to flop although they do lean. Girdles seem like torture devices!

      Delete
  23. Gorgeous supports - I need one of those for my peonies. And your header is lovely, btw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I have a basic cheapo support on my one peony and so far it's working, which surprises me since peony foliage can be heavy. The header was created a friend who is an amazing photographer. :o)

      Delete
  24. I have a rampantly overgrown but oh so gloriously lush front garden, and I love it...but those babies could certainly use a bit of separation and lift...I might ask my nephew who is a welding wiz to create me a little undercover items...yours with the swirly finials make my heart swoon.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do love the fiddleheads! I have numerous items from Battle Hill Forge. I love the idea that something utilitarian can also be beautiful.

      Delete
  25. Those wrought iron plants supports are really attractive. I have never seen anything that nice here in Canada. All my agastache have more basic, utilitarian support.
    There is a white Joe Pye weed in behind one of my 'Blue Fortune', and like your asters, it needs better support. The Pye Weed is really floppy and tall. I have no idea what to use. A tomato cage is so ugly! Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found Battle Hill on Etsy so that would be a good place to look. But I wonder if you stuck an old free standing ladder in the middle of the Joe patch if that would give them something to climb on and lean against. I bet it would look pretty, too. I don't like tomato cages, either.

      Delete
  26. I forgot to say: love the new header!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! A friend created it for me. :o)

      Delete
  27. Hi Tammy, I'm always torn between the "proper prim and immaculate" garden and the "tipping into complete loss of control" garden. Inside, I am a neat freak, outside, I try to realise that I simply don't have the time to micro-manage every leaf, every plant, every weed and so some things slip though the net, but as long as I can keep the plants happy, they shouldn't look too bad, even if they're not far from taking over!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't want a prim, proper, or immaculate garden but I do need to get the plants that should be upright off the ground. You're a neat freak? I have a friend who is a super neat freak and I always want to move all her stuff. I'm tidy and organized but that's it. I like it when the plants all mingle and schmooze with each other but when they're laying prostrate on the ground, I start to twitch and the "Identify problem-fix problem" part of my personality kicks in. But I do like a garden that looks like it's teetering on the edge of chaos but hasn't tipped over quite yet. I like the free-spiritedness of it. :o)

      Delete
  28. rMother Nature is exuberant and free wheeling in those crazy growing days of summer. I love a more managed chaos type design really I'm no authority on garden beauty- having a haute straw bale aesthetic! I love your garden supports- they are really attractive. And what was with all those pointy bras- a fella who got too close could lose an eye!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once saw a picture of a friend's mother just a week after she'd given birth to her. She was in a bullet bra and a form fitting dress and looked miserable. I was in sweats for a month. These supports give the plants plenty of room to grow up as well as out so they won't lay on the ground all summer or collapse into the surrounding plants. But all the credit for their design goes to the blacksmiths. :o)

      Delete
  29. Now, that is plant support with style. I love Agastache as well, but it can be a struggle keeping it upright. I would like to be more relaxed about flopping, but it drives me crazy - I can't help it. I always end up stringing up all my tall plants. Maybe in my heart I am a control freak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't imagine you as a control freak! But a floppy plant feels either a bit lazy or structurally unsound and unable to complete the task it's been assigned, which is to reach for the sun instead of the soil. A floppy plant is like the chronically late coworker who gets half the work done in twice the time and then blames everyone else for their slackerness. I like when my plants mingle and schmooze but full blown flopping makes me crazy, too.

      Delete
  30. Tammy, your posts always make me smile! I just love the idea of all your plants going commando. Some of mine are currently so chilled out they are horizontal ! A bit post - party I think. I am just trying to enjoy every louche second of them before they disappear !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll bet they have a rather satisfied smirk on their faces. ;o) Mine will be headed south soon, too so they are welcome to flop like a floozy for their last few moments in the sun.

      Delete
  31. Tammy girl I am SO jealous of your fantastic supports ... those are what I am looking for !! But where in Canada do they make them is what I would like to know ... my ancient but gorgeous hyssop (going on 14 years+) would look amazing with that support ... could you put some in an envelope and mail them to me ? ... BIG sigh ! ... supports are such a key to keeping us happy as well as the plants ... loved those fashionestas with their pointy supports .. good lord how ever did they manage not knocking some one's eyes out is a miracle !
    Thanks for the laughs girl !
    Take care
    Joy : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found Battle Hill Forge on Etsy so they might ship to Canada. But there might be other blacksmiths in Canada listed on the site. It's worth a look. There's just no way a country as big as yours doesn't have a blacksmith willing to make you a plant support! The bullet bras are hysterical. There's no way they were designed by a woman!

      Delete
  32. Ooh la la, those supports are designed for peeping out, me thinks! Gorgeous! I'm usually the one trying to do damage control way too late and after the saggy plants are drooping all over the place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so, too! It's hard to corral a drooper. It's better to deal with it pre-droop. :o)

      Delete
  33. Pretty funny! That must be what I need for my flopping asters. I always hope some other plant will prop them up, but it's not always the case. Your plant supports are works of art their own right -- thanks for sharing! -Beth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are beauties! All the credit goes to the blacksmith. :o)

      Delete
  34. Ahh, that’s some great plant support – but I bet they cost just as much there as they cost over here, which is a lot. I have been looking into different types for a while, and once you get into a decent size the price is astonishing. I have been thinking of making my own – but it’s only a thought for now, buying metal might prove just as costly – time will tell what I end up with. But mostly I just let the plants do what they want, perhaps with a bamboo stake here and there, I don’t like it too rigid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The price reflects the talent involved. I've used a variety of cheap ones but they were all only suited for plants that didn't need much support to begin with. I like that these are open in the middle so the plants will have the loose look I like without laying on the ground.

      Delete
  35. Who knew that to make the garden young and perky, undies were required! Thanks for the giggles--and things look beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Beautiful photos and I love the vintage ads! :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oh yes! I know gardens that are trussed and staked to within an of their life, while the gardener pretends their not!!!!
    I love your supports and how they disappear, I love how the garden is looking and I absolutely LOVE the way you write and your sense of humour. I always feel better after visiting you!xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That really makes me feel good!! Thanks so much!! :o)

      Delete
  38. My monch asters are still unsupported. I finally planted them where they can sprawl in luxury. Then yesterday I noticed they have virus, so after they finish blooming I am pulling them out. I really like your stakes; they are a love accent of their own accord. Your garden is looking fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love functional beauty and couldn't resist these. They are works of art that will just become more beautiful when they fill with flowers.

      Delete
  39. I am not sure how I arrived here, but glad I did. Love all your supports for the garden and the 'wobbly bits' too. I enjoyed the fun you obviously had using them both to make a great juxtaposition in this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you stopped by. I tend to see the world much differently than others and have always thought of supports as plant underwear so it made sense to be silly and write about it. :o)

      Delete
  40. Brilliant! What a hoot! I love the idea of plants going commando (does that sound wrong?... think it might:-/) Aster amellus 'Veilchenkönigin' needs no support at all. It is the ultimate commando plant. What a fab post - it made me giggle on a miserable, wet Wednesday... As we say in the UK, your posts should be available on the NHS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to Google NHS. :o) If my rambling makes someone smile and feel better, then that's good medicine! I do love my commando plants. Now I just need to get them kilts.... ;o)

      Delete
  41. Thanks, as always, for the laugh! You are so funny and find the best comparisons between real-life and gardening. I must get some of these supports, I think they're exactly what my middle-age garden needs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!! I was running quite the nudist colony without them. ;o)

      Delete
  42. I love these type of plant supports...they look like garden art...I have a few for peonies but most of my garden goes commando too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are art! I'm so grateful to have found such a talented blacksmith.

      Delete
  43. Those wrought iron supports are very attractive. I need them badly (for my body as well as the garden)

    ReplyDelete
  44. You're such a fantastic writer, Tammy. I just found supports similar to these at a Goodwill. Boy will they come in handy next year. So many floppers! :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting my blog! Feel free to comment on the posts or photos.