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A why-didn’t-I-do-that-sooner-moment in the garden


Hi there, homebodies! 

I feel obligated, as I do from time to time when I disappear for a few weeks at a time, to apologize for being a bit scarce. There was a reason for it a couple weeks ago and then, well there wasn’t and now in this new world we live in I can’t even really fully remember what that reason was. 

I will only say this about this surreal world we now find ourselves living in: I am so thankful that gardening season is around the corner. I’m certain it will keep me, and a lot of other people, sane. 

For now, though, around the corner is exactly where gardening is. Other than what’s happening inside—which is my usual seed-starting folderol—there’s not a lot of gardening happening here. The ground is still mostly frozen so as usual I need to do my best patient gardener impression.

But we were able to get one job checked off the spring work list: installing a new trellis on the front of the house.

trellis installati o
Although it wasn’t difficult to mount, I made Mr. Much More Patient do the part where we had to drill into our (discontinued and therefore not repairable) vinyl siding.

You know how people fix up all the little things in their houses before they put them up for sale and then wonder why they didn’t do it sooner? That’s sort of the story of this trellis (although we are not going anywhere). 

When we did the big renovation 10 years ago (which still seems like yesterday), we ended up with a downspout smack dab in the middle of the house. It drove me nuts the day the contractor broke the news to me and it still drives me nuts today. 

At the time the best I could do was an inexpensive wire trellis plopped in front of it onto which a series of climbing roses have grown, some with more success than others. I didn’t like it much when I stuck it there, but it became part of the landscape, like the chipped paint on the stair risers in my house that I deal with by averting my eyes.

As per usual, I didn’t think of taking a “before” picture until we were already into the project, but you get an idea for how the old trellis just wasn’t cutting it.

And that’s how it stayed until a couple weeks ago. “Influenced” on Instagram by a lovely photo of a very simple but sturdy trellis on the front of a house, I went off in search of something similar and landed here. Shipping for the aluminum trellis was a problem though—boxes over 8 feet long get tagged with a nasty oversize fee. To avoid that, I worked with the owner to come up with a trellis that is just a touch under 8 feet long by 2 feet wide with legs that insert in the bottom. It connects to the house through two brackets at the top and is sturdied by the legs at the bottom. 

The after is already better, even with nothing growing there. The climbing rose, by the way, is that lump on the ground near it. I’ve had good success overwintering canes by tipping them over and burying them under compost and leaves.

If you’re looking for the downspout, it’s still obviously there, but my hope is that ones things are growing up that trellis it will all fade into the background.

A climbing rose called ‘Autumn Sunset’ grows there and it would be great if it had a good year. Sawfly Larvae have been terrible for several years now but they weren’t as bad last year as they were the year before so perhaps that’s reason for hope.

‘Autumn Sunset’ in previous years.

I’ve grown a number of clematis there as well, but last year I replaced what had been growing there with one of my favorites, ‘Perle ‘d Azur’, which should have no problem reaching the top of that trellis and then some. Of course both of these plants will have to be tied into the 1-inch thick framework of the trellis, but I can handle that.

I look forward to seeing what it looks like in summer, but the true victory here is that it looks so much better even without plants growing up it. 

All of which has me wondering: Why didn’t I do this sooner? 

Annual border
Squint a little and you can imagine what the new trellis will look like here this summer.

17 Responses

  1. Hi, I just found your blog or however you would like to categorize it. I just wanted to say thanks for all the great information and wonderful reading. And you should also know not to be so worried about the gutters. Us that have a house to call our own are very blessed, even if it is less than perfect. Which your house is adorable from what I can see. I love my old house, I have old obsolete steel siding, so I can relate about that issue. I am still looking through everything and if there is not anything on the history of your property, maybe an idea for more writing. Since I read you did remodel it, you would certainly know if it’s old. Where I am from we call it “native lumber”, not sure of the correct terminology. But I am sure anyone who has had the pleasure of remodeling a house made out of it could probably agree there is no comparison to today’s lumber. With your appreciation of nature and quality tools, I will bet your interior decorating skills are on point. Alright I am going to shut up already, and I look forward to more good reading from you.

  2. Last year I found myself wishing I’d started certain seeds sooner ( inside). In one of your videos, I saw you use a large ice scoop, wishing it had a flat, rather than round, bottom surface. Expanding on your idea, I’m now using a livestock feed scoop (flat on the bottom) for distributing the seed-starting soil. It’s made the job easier and I’m glad to get some plants started sooner rather than later. Thanks for the tip and the inspiration.

  3. The before pictures of your earlier flowers in that spot are so beautiful, can’t wait to see that space this year with the new trellis filled to the top with roses…what downspout, lol!

  4. I just installed a Panacea trellis from Gardeners’ Supply that’s 9′ tall. It comes in three parts that have to be assembled, so that helps with the shipping cost.

  5. We’ve recently started our new tree service company and came across this article. I love that you continued to look for another solution to your downspout disguising issue. I think your new trellis is going to work wonderfully. Good luck.

  6. I was able to get something off my list last week end that was a why didn’t I do that sooner. Thanks to all sports being cancelled my husband was available to take out a bush that was turning into a tree. It was harder work because I had put it off to long.

  7. I can’t wait to see how this space fills out with the new trellis this year. I have some siding on our house and carport that I really want to mount a trellis to, but haven’t worked up the courage yet. You are braver than I!

  8. You are so right that it looks better even with nothing on it. Seems to disappear almost and take the downspout with it. I am hoping the plants I mail ordered in January will be able to be shipped next month. Not only is that a first world statement, but one by a person who hopes she is healthy. Gardening will keep us sane. No doubt about it.

  9. Hi — would you consider a post on where to mail order flats of vegetable plants in lieu of going to a home improvement store? Or maybe it’s on your blog somewhere already? I would just feel better about ordering plants than going into a retail establishment at this point.

  10. Beautiful trellis for your roses! I like the height of it too. I finally removed all of my English roses after years of fighting sawfly larvae. I still miss my roses.

  11. That trellis is perfect! It looks like it was always there. I couldn’t help but notice how perfectly spaced the horizontal lines are and they almost disappear because they line up with the siding Good Job Erin and Mr. Much-more-patient! Looking forward to watching the climbers do their thing.

  12. This is an ideal time to get things done outside. I have made a list and am thrilled to have a yard and garden. As you said, it just might save our sanity.
    Since Amazon is offering Kindle books free for next two months, it is an opportunity to read some gardening books. Let’s get creative and make as good a use of this time as we can.

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