hurdles_4.jpg
Credit: Terry Guscott

Manicured lawns may be passé, but you needn’t completely give up the idea of having a tidy garden. Two ideas from across the pond offer support to climbing plants while also training botanicals in an orderly fashion.

Hurdles have been used extensively in Europe to fence off a garden or screen parts of it. In Britain, they are also used as a portable temporary fencing for sheep. These clever supports can also work as an alternative to a wall trellis. Traditionally woven from willow or hazel, hurdles are far less visually jarring in a natural setting than metal structures, making them popular in cottage gardens. Add delicate climbers such as clematis or sweet pea for a colourful privacy screen.

The hurdle shown here was made using pruned cuttings from an overgrown pussy willow tree. The vertical supports were pushed into the ground, then smaller branches were woven horizontally between them and tied firmly using jute twine.

For vertical plantings, turn to another type of garden structure known as a tuteur (French for “trainer”). Willow versions of this woven obelisk plant support are popular as are the more formal white wood or metal versions. Train a vine up a tuteur for a quick topiary effect, or place a flowering vine-covered tuteur on either side of an entrance to give a garden an air of elegance.

The tuteur pictured on the right was made by forming cut willow branches into a cone. The bases of the branches were buried in a pot and the top tied with twine. Smaller branches were then woven between the supporting members and secured at the ends with more twine.

Janet Collins is an avid fibre artist, writer and organic gardener based in Sechelt.