One of them is the lesson of staking. Plants that need staking need to be staked before they need staking. And even though I know full well that they will need to be staked, I watch them grow tall and long and think, “Wow, that plant doesn’t even need staking.”
And then it rains, or a big wind blows through, or the plant grows a millimeter beyond the point where the center of gravity shifts from the bottom to the top. And I look in the garden and my once-stunning plant is reduced to a heap. And I know full well that any attempt to stand it back up again will probably fail.
I could be forgiven for not staking things earlier if I didn’t know better. But I do. And yet, all over the garden, there are plants laying on the ground, looking like the smoke monster from “Lost” trudged through the yard late at night.
The list of plants that have suffered for my lack of staking attention this year is long. A variety of particularly tall-growing sedums, a few dahlias that were forgotten along the way, some hydrangeas that got a little floppier than I anticipated (although that’s more a case of tying up rather than staking, to get technical), all but one of the many castor bean plants spread around the garden and the ‘Redbor’ kale that should be the star of the fall garden but instead is impeding any sort of movement through the circle garden.
|Horrible quality kale selfie. That’s some big kale.|
|The kale is a mishmosh of still-standing stalwarts and flopped-over Suessian cruciferous purple goodness.|
The ‘Redbor’ kale counts among the great successes in this year’s garden. Grown from seed, the plants have flourished and defined the circle garden. When a few of them started listing several weeks ago, I dutifully staked them with 3-foot stakes. But the kale, which was rapidly approaching gargantuan size, laughed at my lame staking attempt. Even the staked kales toppled. Before one of the largest started tipping over, it was a good foot over my head.
|This one was one of the lucky ones who was staked early on, but I didn’t continue tying it in, so it flopped over anyway.|
I have no explanation for my lack of staking other than optimism. Every year I convince myself that my plants will defy gravity and not need any support.
Have I learned my lesson finally? Stay tuned until next year, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
What garden lesson do you just never really learn?