Welcome to our Head Gardener’s Journal

In this monthly column, we will share technical aspects of our work and also keep you up to date about ongoing projects. If there is any topic you might want to hear more about, please ask during your next visit!

Building Herbaceous Supports

Last month, we described how we use coppiced hazel from our woodlands to build rose supports. Hazel is also an ideal material for herbaceous plant supports. Each year, we ‘plant’ many hazel structures in our borders to support tall perennials and provide scaffolds for vigorous viticella clematis. When the plants are bigger, a lovely ‘mingling’ effect is created: they seem to float around each other weightlessly because the support is barely visible. 

Clematis ‘Durandii’, Salvia ‘Mainacht’, and Aconitum carmichaelii grown through a hazel support

For herbaceous plant supports we use the feathered younger hazel branches that our woodlands yield in large quantities.

Freshly cut hazel branches

Three to four long branches are inserted vertically in the ground. The ends of the branches are then bent and wound around the base of the opposite branch. Weaving more and more ends into the structure in a criss-cross fashion creates a sturdy ‘dome’ ideal for keeping the perennials upright and tying the clematis around them. 

Building a hazel dome

We build supports very early in the year, when perennials are still dormant in order to avoid damaging the tulips that are emerging in our borders. Since the supports are rather intricate, they act as sculptures to liven up our spring gardens 

A completed hazel dome

The hazel domes are removed in the autumn when all the borders are cut back.