Twigs, poles and lines

Holy cow, what a lot of work. Whose idea was all this gardening anyway? Well that’s July for you. Good thing someone invented lawn furniture.

I wanted to let you know how my various plant scaffolding aka arbors are working out. The weirder the better seems to apply, and that last-minute twig trellis, which you will recall in all its antler-looking glory from an earlier post, is doing its job with the cucumber vines.

cucumbers on trellis

Actually I am quite panicked about making pickles, which I don’t know how to do–because  I planted a bunch of these vines for that use and they are starting to make cucumbers. The trouble is I pretty much spend all my waking hours guiding the plants up the sticks so I don’t have any opportunity to learn about pickling. (Maybe I can read in the night.)

In other trellis news, in spring we built a support on which to grow kiwi vines. Here it is three months ago in bleak April.

kiwi arbor April You can see two skinny kiwi vines planted in those little barrels, a boy kiwi and a girl kiwi.  The barrels are open on the bottom so they are like raised beds which is helpful to kiwis when grown in clay soil and rainy winters like we have here.  Anyway, this structure is adjacent to the larger long grape arbor, so the two come together in a sort of T shape and if the kiwis perish well the grapes will be happy to sprawl.

kiwi arbor2Here is the new arbor today in the morning shade.

I planted some homegrown petunias and phlox in the pots too, because as you know I am all about beautification and also hiding rust.

kiwi and flowersI know the rust still shows some but it isn’t polite to make a big deal about it especially after I tried with the petunias.

The hollyhocks are in bloom so I will distract you with them now.

hollyhocks and Max by the back door

They are of course supported with stakes because I’ve personally observed that hollyhocks have heightened cellular density and actually experience increased levels of gravitational effect, as you might have learned if you had completed a double major in physics and botany which I didn’t but still.  (I suppose it could be that you preferred English and like to read stories and write silly stuff.)

I used to have some dark red hollyhocks but I kind of rearranged plants last fall and the color was lost.  And no I don’t know what that means but it’s what happened.

not red hollyhock

This one above is grown new this year from “red” seed but you can see the not-really-red outcome– so don’t count on anything like that working.

retractable clothesline

Which brings me to the new retractable clothesline. It works like crazy, and I do love drying the laundry in this fresh, primitive and economical fashion.

The round line-holding thing is mounted on the side of one of the kiwi arbor poles, and I almost plan to paint a Green Man face on the white housing. (Why would they make it white?)  The line can be pulled across the yard and anchored on a little limb of a maple tree, then released back into the round thing when you’re done. (You’re never done until it rains.)


And just in case you think me some kind of technological Luddite, I will also report that I have new Internet service. Now, instead of sharing 5GB of data a month between two computers, we have 300GB. I live far from any buried cables so this achievement wasn’t simple.

The new system gets the data to and from my computer by bouncing it off a receiver on the hilltop house of a distant neighbor. The data volume makes it possible to stream movies or Rachel Maddow’s news commentary or YouTube bits showing how to execute directional lifted knitting increases. (I could also watch video tours of your garden so please post some right away.)

PS: This plant with heart-shaped leaves has suspiciously appeared.

mystery plant

I have let it stay so far, just for the foliage, but I don’t exactly trust it. You probably know what it is and if you tell me I will name it after you–not the whole variety of course,  just this plant.

And if it’s a weed and I dig it up I promise I won’t call it by your name any more after it’s dead and wilted.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in stuff for your garden that isn't plants, vegetable garden and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Twigs, poles and lines

  1. Katie says:

    What fun would vegetable gardening be if everything didn’t come in all at once? Cucumbers are the worst that way. I’m doing my pickling a little different this year by picking a manageable amount at a time, layering them in a pan with dill and garlic, then pouring hot brine over them. When they cool off you just cover them and put them in the fridge. After about 2 days they’re very good – still crunchy! I hear they will keep a few months, but that’s not going to be a problem at the rate they’re disappearing. No need to panic, easy as pie.

  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Before Katie came to the rescue, I was going to suggest that with your fancy new technology, you could maybe watch some pickling how to videos on Youtube. Your lovely structures prove that support can be beautiful! Happy working slavishly in the dirt (some call it gardening.)

    • linniew says:

      Oh yes Peter that online learning process was what I had in mind. I just need to spend a little time, and there is such terrible pressure from those cucumbers, growing and growing, night and day…

      Slavish work is right. Do you think we are victims of group hypnosis? Or something? Not everybody is driven to do this gardening thing you know. Still at least I escaped needing to play golf. (Sorry if you love golf.)

  3. Rachelle says:

    The best use of cucumbers is to use them in the salsa recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning. Second best, the sweet relish recipe, same book. There is a recipe for gherkins, I use, which does not involve hot water bath or pressure canning and is good for a year.

    Linnie, I fear the mystery plant is what I have renamed campanula horribilis, the common name lady bells is too mild-mannered and the newly classified taxonomical name, adenophora stricta, hides its evil plans for world domination. Lady Bells must be the fiancee of Creeping Charlie…cousin of Dr. Quack Grass.

    • linniew says:

      I think I have that book Rachelle–thanks! I am semi-confounded by the hot water canning versus no canning schools of pickle-making.

      And I have been watering the cousin of Dr. Quack, an evil Lady aspiring to world domination? The leaves on this plant are HUGE. I’m not calling the plant ‘Rachelle’ yet but it may happen.

    • Carol K. says:

      Oh, yesyesyes – Rachelle is so right about your mystery plant! If that is indeed what it is (and it certainly looks like it but how long have you had it — did you plant it and does it get bell-shaped blue flowers?). Assuming it is lady bells, I planted this wolf in sheep’s clothing in my flower bed about 5 years ago and have been waging war with the stolons for the last 4! (What I get for succumbing to my impulsive weakness for blue when at the local nursery and not researching beforehand.) ACK! Love your blog; came across it as I was looking for new ideas for trellising cukes for our senior center. Garden on! Will return to read more after I finish (HAH) potting on a few hundred seedlings…

      • linniew says:

        Welcome Carol!
        As I recall (it’s been a while) the mystery plant finally flowered and admitted it was Lunaria annua, aka Honesty. And of course there is an ancient belief that Honesty only grows in the garden of an honest gardener, so I am freed of any suspicion or doubt regarding the irrefutable, objective verity of my words here. Like if I say there was a fairy swimming in the bird bath why then you will completely know that there was a fairy swimming in the bird bath. Such a relief. And also you are so right Carol that blue is the best flower color.

        I hope you got every seedling planted because otherwise the guilt is so horrible.

  4. Alberto says:

    First of all: sorry I’ve missed that post about poles that you linked.
    Then, let me say something, really honestly, because I’m so impressed with your garden and with all the work you do on it, really. All the winter, while you’ve been writing all those erratic posts, I was thinking ‘but ain’t the wicked woman working on her garden?!’. Indeed here are the results: that kiwi arbour is fantastic, I’m just looking for some old vintage (understand? not rusty! vintage, indeed) barrels to scatter around the garden. And those petunias? A touch of class… Now please: free that poor wicked woman we used to know and leave that body, Martha Stewart’s spirit!!!!

  5. kininvie says:

    My chief comment is on the laundry. Firstly about how you arrange it from large to small, which is definitely the sign of an organised mind – maybe over-organised – but also to point out that something large and black appears to be crawling up your sheet – just so that you know, and can go out and remove it when you read this, unless it’s a deluded hummingbird. But I fear it may be a cockroach..

    My second comment is that the petunia and the rust make a great colour combination. Really.

    • linniew says:

      I see that outdoor laundry drying has never been part of your job description Kininvie. My over-organiZed system is entirely practical based upon the limited space available and the need to get large wet pieces of fabric to dry. (It is easier, for example, to drape an extra sock on the edge of the laundry basket than to find some alternate for a sheet.)

      The black bit on the sheet is a tag. The tag indicates the size of the sheet and fiber content and brand. We don’t have those big cockroaches here like you maybe saw in Texas. (I saw them when I was in Texas.) And hummingbirds don’t hang on sheets. I did see a hummingbird out my kitchen window the other day, he was visiting perennial fuchsia blooms, and I thought of you, and I do feel it is very clever how you have associated yourself in my mind with hummingbirds in spite of your appalling comments although I’m glad you like my rust.

      • kininvie says:

        On the contrary, I have a very practical washing green, which I have carefully designed in a triangular fashion to catch the wind, no matter what direction it comes from. Often there is too much of it…modern clothes pegs are just so feeble, don’t you find?

        I’m sure I see legs on that black thing. Do your tags have legs? How very imaginative of your sheet manufacturers.

        The reason you associate me with hummingbirds is pure guilt, because you have STILL provided no photograph for me. Other bloggers manage….

  6. Cathy says:

    Linnie, I love that clothesline! It would not work for us, but I have been trying to find one of the collapsible ones with a stand that you open on a patio or deck. I had one for many years until a sudden and unexpected thunderstorm turned it into a parachute. The laundry survived, the clothesline didn’t. I found a couple of cheap imitators, but never one like that sturdy old thing from forty years ago. I love to dry sheets, towels, and dedicates (my unmentionables) outside.

    Love your arbor and the “colorful” touches. Thanks for making me laugh this AM!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Cathy
      I used a round umbrella one like that at a vacation house once. It must have been terrible to have yours blow away– I suggest shopping at antique stores for an old one to replace it. I actually prefer putting bath towels in a dryer because when they dry outside they are like cardboard. But sheets and pillowcases are perfect in the sun!

  7. Why would you want to hide the rust on the barrels? Rust rocks. I love me some rust. In fact, I worship rust. I lust for rust. (Said in a very Cruela Deville sort of way with an accompanying cackle.) But it’s true that I do. 🙂

    I love your clothesline. There is nothing quite as blissful as going to bed on fresh, line-dried sheets. And your shady arbors look wonderful. Such a contrast from a few short months ago.

    It looks like a freshly bathed Max loves the hollyhocks too. Or sniffing the walk to ascertain if anyone unfamiliar has been roaming the land.

    The heart-shaped foliage, looks suspiciously like a campanula of some sort or another.

    So is it Mr. O who mows your gorgeously verdant lawn? I would think a riding mower would do the job quite nicely.

    My apologies for my aloofness. Thanks for visiting my blog. No I’m not a fan of blue but I like purple. I’m weird like that. 🙂 Have a great weekend.

    • linniew says:

      Well you can see I didn’t work really hard to hide the rust…

      I’ll keep an eye on the mystery plant and report when it blooms. Yes Mr O mows the grass and builds the arbors and I plant things and haul compost. It’s a win-win-everybody-gets-tired situation. You’re lucky to like purple Gracie because it seems like purple turns up a lot in flowers. Like most of my ‘blues’ end up being purple!

  8. Wow, Linnie the picture of your new arbor looks like it came straight from a glossy mag.
    I like your Hollyhocks and the fact that I don’t grow them has nothing to do with the fact that thirty years ago I was informed that Hollyhocks only grow well in gardens where the woman is the boss.
    I had to laugh at your retractable washing line. We have just created a new garden area where the washing once was hung up to dry. Now it hangs in the patio area just outside the back door, everytime I walk outside my face gets tangled in bras and knickers which may at one time have seemed less objectionable. Must get one of your retractable thingys.

    • linniew says:

      A very fine compliment from someone who keeps the lovely garden you do Alistair–thanks!

      Now I have never ever heard that thing about hollyhocks and women bosses. (You aren’t making it up right?) My initial interpretation is that men don’t care for hollyhocks so the presence of the plants suggests that women are designing the garden. But most likely it’s just that the women are doing ALL parts of the gardening which is much different from being boss. But I like hollyhocks.

      I can’t begin to tell you how I hope you will have Myra take a photograph of you peering through the bras and knickers as you exit through the drying area–please please! Really I think every garden blog with summer outdoor laundry should have a photo about it since it is as much a part of the garden as any arbor. I would also look forward to seeing Kininvie’s “triangular washing green” which I have a little trouble quite picturing…

      • Alistair says:

        Linnie, I am sure it was Alan Titchmarsh who passed on this information on Hollyhocks and henpecked husbands. I am easily persuaded and daft enough to pose through the washing line.

        • linniew says:

          I will have to look up Mr. Titmarsh and put him right about hollyhocks.
          I just checked Aberdeen on my phone weather app. and it looks like a good day for laundry Alistair… Although I recall that the tradition used to put Monday as laundry day. Oh but Monday looks good for your weather too, 22C (72F) and no rain. Actually it’s a good rainless whole week so tell Myra to keep the camera ready! (I wish we had your temperatures– we are expecting 90+F (32+C) here for the next 6 days, way too warm for me.) Can’t wait to see that picture… 🙂

          • kininvie says:

            I absolutely agree that we need a photograph of Alistair festooned by bras. I’ll provide one of my triamgular washing green in exchange

            • linniew says:

              A binding contract! But, you must include the washing, in place on the green… On a clothesline–or is it just on the lawn? (You see how confusing this is?)

  9. Susan says:

    It is fortunate for Mr.O that you do not have a double major in botany and physics. I am married to someone who does, well biology and physics which is just as bad. He doodles equations for fun but attaching the vacum cleaner tools is beyond him. Fortunately he is good at simple minded tasks like digging. I do the planting otherwise the seeds would go in upside down or ten times too deep. Despite this he fancies himself a master gardener. This, as you know, is where a dog comes in handy, as I can reliably count on the canine vote going in my favour. Your garden looks wonderful.

    • linniew says:

      Oh Susan, I too know some of those people– bright and well educated but really hopeless with little practicalities. Still we love them and their fine minds, and how wonderful that he will dig for you! Does he prune trees? That can be scary. Glad you have a dog vote on your side, it can completely save the situation.

  10. Lyn says:

    Oh Linnie, thank you for making me laugh so much I could hardly breathe. (Kininvie helped. I mean with making me laugh, not with recovering my breath, because after all, he is a long way away). I feel quite rejuvenated. Your kiwi arbour is awesome, but if you think you are a slave to your cucumber vines, just wait until the kiwis try to take over your clothesline. They have no manners, you know.

    • linniew says:

      Dear Lyn,
      I expect you have seen more real kiwi vines than I have– I will be vigilant about keeping the clothesline for clothes. I just love those roundy-furry leaves though… And I’m pleased to have your input in my skirmishes with Kininvie. (I just keep thinking I can help him to become a more reasonable person, but I don’t see a lot of progress.)

  11. I fear kininvie must have been swallowed up by those nasty vampirish midges of his, be working in his basement laboratory feverishly perfecting a midge repellent, or dating Martha Stewart. Shall we wager which it is?

    • linniew says:

      I’m going with the midge repellent. Well that or wandering gardens in northern Europe.

      • kininvie says:

        Wrong. I’m watching Martha Stewart videos on the ‘private view’ Firefox page. It’s quite something. I’ve even abandoned the mowing….

        • kininvie says:

          PS You should see her ‘patriotic tote bags’…I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

          • linniew says:

            I fear to even THINK what it could be you are talking about. A ‘private view’ anything sounds just so—private. I will leave you and Martha to…it. (Patriotic most anything is just so often not good. And ‘tote bags’ is redundant seems to me.)

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