Onwards and upwards

Rustic bean poles are a good budget option

Rustic bean poles are a good budget option

If you’re thinking of growing sweet peas or indeed any climbing plants in the border you’re going to need some kind of structure to support the plants as they grow. There are lots to choose from and the supports themselves can make a visual statement in the garden and contribute to the overall look and feel of the space.

Starting at the budget end, and if you’re a beginner gardener, half a dozen bamboo canes inserted into the ground in a hexagon and secured together at the top will make a good support for sweet peas, runner beans and any other climbing annuals. If you have access to birch or hazel poles, these add a rustic touch which fits in well with a cottage style garden. You may find “wigwams” in garden centres or farmers’ markets woven from willow or hazel which look lovely and can last for a couple of seasons if taken inside in winter.

If you want your support to make a design statement, you may want to consider something more durable that will add structure during the winter months even when not covered with foliage and flowers. A more permanent structure is also a good idea for longer lived plants such as clematis or climbing roses. Wooden obelisks work really well here and can be painted for a classic country look – remember that wood should be pressure treated or hardwood if it’s to last more than a couple of years. Metal’s a good choice as long as it’s protected from rust by a protective paint or powder coating, and if you like a flourish on top, you can choose a shaped finial or ball for extra elegance. A trio of obelisks standing like sentinels along a border will give you height and structure all year round. If investing in a good quality support, do make sure it’s tall enough – remember you will be sinking about 30cm of the ends into the ground to secure it so make sure you have at least 1.8m (that’s about 6 feet in old money ) on top of that, as most climbers are fairly vigorous, whether of the social or the plant variety!!

Classic obelisks add structure to a border

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