Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Plant Now to Adorn Fences, Walls, Poles

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Plant Now to Adorn Fences, Walls, Poles

Article excerpt

As part of the fall cleanup and reappraisal in the garden, it is a good idea to take advantage of any emphatically vertical feature.

Great for supporting vines and other softening plants, these structures can be found at every turn - a garage wall or a utility pole, a chain-link fence or a fancy cedar archway, a pergola or the stump of a once-beautiful tulip tree that a storm snapped in two.

Many of the plants to adorn them are best planted in the fall. Annuals should wait until spring. There are two approaches: You can plant a climber running upward from the ground or let a plant cascade from the top. The two solutions offer dramatically different visual effects. A climber merrily vining its way upward and sideways can be as cheery and as rustic as an old-fashioned picture postcard. On walls, particularly those of brick, concrete blocks or solid concrete, a living mass of dense greenery is a far more pleasant sight than a monotonous expanse of masonry. But be careful with two of the most vigorous vines - ivy and wisteria. Ivy, valuable for thriving in the shade, can be destructive to mortar that contains too much lime, especially if the masonry is crumbling in the first place. Wisteria grows with alarming speed and can, unseen, get behind gutters and roof tiles and work them loose. If a wall is weakened by cracks or shows evidence of crumbling, a trellis placed on the wall may shoulder the weight of the plant and keep clinging rootlets from eating into the crevices. Such a trellis should always be securely fastened to the wall every three feet or so, lest fierce winds or snow drifts shake it loose. On the other hand, a well-laid stone wall deserves our appreciation and a different treatment. A wooden or concrete planter or two on its top should let a trailing plant cascade without hiding the beauty of the stone, an ideal complement to the softness of flowers. Again, reliably secure fastening is a must. Heavy-gauge wire should be fastened to each end of the container and screwed into the mortared joints of the wall, using a masonry drill and plastic anchors. Winter jasmine, the hardiest of the jasmines, looks far more picturesque when dangling from above than when encouraged as a climber from below. …

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