In the spring, there seems to be no shortage of branches that need to be pruned from trees and shrubs. Before you toss them away, use these bendy, whip-like branches to”twig-up” heavy summer blooms.
This old idea fits well with the desire to recycle rather than send garden trimmings to the landfill. For centuries, English gardeners have been weaving large panels of interlaced branches into fencing known as wattles or hurdles. Decorative variations of these plant supports have found their place in today’s cottage garden. Supple lengths of wood and bamboo have been creatively fashioned into woven borders. The shorter panels make the perfect edging for flower and vegetable beds, larger sections offer quick and economical screening, trellises and fencing options. As these wattles age, they take on a faded patina that almost disappears into the plants they support.
A great way to revive the art of woven supports is to add them to a container of lilies. Tall Asiatic lilies, easy to grow from bulbs, make care-free additions to the garden, yielding long-lasting cut flowers that return from year to year. In my zone 7 garden. lilies usually begin opening up in early summer and continue to flower for about 2 to 3 weeks.
I pack my lilies into containers to create a bold splash of color. Once the large, heavy, chalice-shaped flowers open, their long stalks can tip forward, so a little support helps hold those gorgeous flowers aloft.
I used ‘Chianti’ lilies in my container because I’m completely knocked out by their rich pink color. I can’t help but smile every time I walk by them. Try a pair on either side of your entry or create a focal point by dropping an oversized, lily-stuffed container into a sunny flower border.
Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the bulbs to grow. You’ll know that once those flowers open, their blooms will be held upright for all to see.
- Fill a 24-inch terra cotta pot about 2/3 full with commercial soil mix. Be sure the container has a drainage hole. Soggy soil is the kiss of death for Asiatic lilies. Arrange 12 or so Asiatic hybrid lily bulbs over the surface 4 to 6 inches apart, and cover the bulbs with 6-inches or so of soil mix. Gently tamp the soil in place and water well.
- I pruned my crabapple tree and found 6 limbs that were ideal for the vertical supports. Be sure the diameter of these stakes is at least twice as thick as the stems woven around them. Cut the vertical supports so they will rest on the bottom and extend about 18 inches above the top of the pot.
- For the sidewalls, choose long, limber shoots to weave around the stakes. I’ve found that such plants as such willows, elaeagnus and forsythia are ideal, but any pliable branch will work. Cut the branches to about 30 inches in length, and then strip away the leaves.
You’re done! Asiatic lilies in full bloom held by a woven wattle are the amazing reward you receive for your work. The wattle should last several seasons.