Monday, June 20, 2005

Trellis, Anyone?

I’ve been largely out of commission in the garden for the past two weeks, due to jury duty and personal matters. But on Saturday (June 18) I built this 7 foot tall by 9 foot wide rustic cedar trellis. It took all day, the process including cutting with a gasoline chainsaw and electric circular saw, digging, elevating and securing all pieces with stainless steel #10 2½” screws. (Tree felling and design had been done earlier.)

The upright posts are Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar), with horizontal and diagonal stiffening pieces of the same wood or of hardwoods, as I didn’t have a lot of long, straight, smaller diameter cedar. The rear posts are set 12” in the ground, on top of 4” of rocks and sand, the remaining 12” hole then filled with 8” of sand and 4” of soil. I suspect the posts will last for 8 to 10 years, while some of the hardwood cross-pieces may have to be replaced in as little as 2 years due to rot. It’s not much work to replace cross-pieces one at a time; the difficult task is setting up posts and holding them upright while securing them.

I have yet to run vertical strings for the morning glories (Ipomeia ‘Scarlet O’Hara,’ visible in the center of the soil bed, and now just 1 foot tall) to climb, and I will also be adding some smaller pieces of wood, or horizontal wires, for various plants to climb, the exact use of which depends on what other plants I end up adding.

Given the yellow and white house, the existing morning glories, and my desire for roses, I think I’ll have to stick with red to orange or red to pink flowers.

I want to have at least one rose, given the site probably a climber like the red 7-petaled Altissimo, or the nonremontant red very double ‘Chevy Chase’, both of which Peter Schneider on Roses says are good choices for half shade. (This is an excellent book, probably the best of the “Burpee Expert Gardener” series; it consists of Schneider’s favorite 400 or so rose cultivars among the 1,400 he boasts of having grown, with many photographs and some broader cultural tips and information on classes of rose.)

For the other plants I am undecided. A clematis would be nice, especially a later bloomer that can be pruned in the spring with the rose.

Ideally, at least one of the plants will grow long and full enough to cover the top of the trellis and shade the chairs below from the mid-day sun behind them. And some broad-leaf evergreen foliage would be nice in the winter, although I think that would mean including a plant without blooms as flamboyant as rose or clematis, so I wouldn’t want to overdo the evergreens, or have to keep fighting to keep an invasive ivy off of my flowering plants.

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