I use every size of semi-circular and find that the 8mm range is robust enough to go into the soil without bending on all but the most stoney parts of the garden and yet delicate enough to be hidden by other plants.
The small semi-circulars are useful for dotting here and there in the middle of the border. I love Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and it holds itself well but the flower spikes do get very long and it’s useful to give them a little support.
A pair of small semi-circulars will protect the newly planted irises and salvias as they grow
My Campanula lactiflora ‘Pritchard’s Variety’ always makes people comment as they come round the corner of the barn into the courtyard garden. It flowers abundantly and has stood up well to the wind and rain but I do find that some of the outer stems are drooping and popping one or two medium semi-circulars round the edges of the border will keep it in check.
Large semi-circulars can be used for vigorous clumps such as asters, smaller dahlias or my great favourite, Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’, which seems to love the winter-wet courtyard garden and the huge clumps are now producing a stunning mass of red-eyed purple flowers. Remember to get them in place early as wrestling a support onto a plant that has already outgrown its space is much more of challenge!!
The 12mm supports are more visible but also much more robust and will tolerate a lump hammer used on the corners to bash the legs into the solid clay that I have in some parts of the garden. Some of our clients use pairs of supports fastened with ties back-to-back, following the example set by Morton Hall Gardens in Worcestershire which used pairs of large supports round some wayward new ramblers to keep them in check. I have recommended this solution for roses, dahlias and other really vigorous clumps that need holding well in. The hoops give a good-sized oblong shape while the legs are pushed into the soil side-by-side and attract very little attention.
Morton Hall, Worcestershire: young rambler roses are held together with large 12mm semi-circular supports placed back-to-back
Our gardens are about to go into their quiet phase – my mother used to say that as the birds hide and moult so plants go into a quiescent period in July/early August before they burst into Autumn fireworks with asters, chrysanthemums and dahlias. These are flowers that all fell out of favour but are back with a buzz and we are working on a new support range for cutting flower gardens, including dahlias which our US clients seem to love!!
WE’LL BE BACK WITH OUR AUTUMN THOUGHTS IN SEPTEMBER.