Did-It-Myself Project #6: Arbor and Trellises

Just about any vertical surface can become a garden, all you need is something for the plants to grab onto. The first place I lived in Oregon was a lovely rural playground for a woodworker. I collected all the scrap wood on the property and immediately turned it into a deck, boardwalk, and a mailbox with nothing but a saw and a drill. I like a challenge.

And when a gardener is given a pile of raw materials like that and several outdoor walls facing east and south, it’s like they hear a starter pistol go off in their imagination: “Ladies and gentlemen, start your circular saws!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe garage was an obvious canvas. Facing due south and getting plenty of air circulation, it’s blank side (above) begged for sweat peas, beans, and morning glories. (Unfortunately, slugs love sweat peas, beans, and morning glories. And pretty much everything else.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI pounded two metal fence posts into the ground and secured the trellis to them with wire so the wood would never touch the soggy soil (above).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven without greenery on it, I’d say it perked up the garage and gave it a touch of class. I used it to tie up sunflowers (left) and other tall perennials(above), instead, and the landlord donated a pair of blueberry bushes that began producing immediately–Yum!

Did you know that blueberry bushes can be propagated from mere cuttings and a little rooting hormone powder? As the muffin and pancake gods are my witness, I will never go hungry in Oregon again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve always wanted an arbor, so when I thinned the overcrowded sweet gum out in the old nursery rows on the side of the property, I used the wood to fashion a rustic arch (above). It’s only coincidental that the stabilizing peak in the middle spelled out my initial. If anyone points it out, though, I usually smile enigmatically.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScarlet runner beans (above) sure did like that arbor and the hummingbirds sure did like those scarlet runner bean blooms. I tried wisteria at first but I discovered that it can be a pain to get started, so I switched to annual climbers like showy peas and beans.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arbor looked even better in the winter time.

We saw 4″ during that rare Willamette Valley snow storm (left). Usually, it’s just mud around here until spring. If ten snowflakes get together and fall during rush hour traffic, chaos ensues.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe rest of the sweet gum trunks were splayed out into a trellis for burgundy-stemmed honeysuckle to climb. The yellow blooms complimented the house beautifully and the aroma was heady whenever you passed in and out of the front door. The hummingbirds approved. Above, a mixed batch of sunflowers hides the vines–the chickadees approved. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been busy these days designing and erecting sleek and elegant cedar plank screens, stands, and trellises around my current residence. It’s amazing what lumber mills and construction sites will hand over if you just ask (and are willing to load it yourself).

October 5, 2006 and April 1, 2007


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