I had a vision. A friend had given me three forsythia divisions. I wanted to use two of them to create an archway. I knew they were fast growers, so it seemed logical that by planting one on each side of a path, eventually they could be tied together at the top. It wasn’t long before they were tall enough for tying, but they kept collapsing in the middle. Have you noticed how once a problem has been defined, a solution usually presents itself? While in the throes of the arch dilemma, I visited a splendid garden where rebar had been used to give the plants support and structure. The piece de resistance was a gazebo-like structure for which the gardener had obligingly printed instructions. It was simple, really: four foot sections of three-quarter inch metal pipe had been driven into the ground at four corners of a square. Two twenty four foot lengths of half inch rebar had been bent into arches, with the ends inserted into opposing pipes to form an X, which was wired together where the bars crossed in the middle. She had grown clematis over the structure to stunning effect.
I quickly adapted the principle to my archway by moving the position of the pipes into a wide, narrow rectangle instead of the square. The forsythia, tied to the framework, soon obscured the underlying metalwork, and for a few weeks in early spring I have a golden archway leading to the little terrace in the back corner of the garden. To extend the flowering season, I trained a clematis into the arch to take over the show once the yellow fades. The rest of the growing season finds it looking like the picture above, taken looking out from the terrace to the garden beyond. Wouldn’t you know I lack a picture of it in full flower (the subject of my next post will be practicing quick-draw with the camera to capture fleeting moments).
The very qualities that gave me quick results present a constant need for pruning, but I think the results are worth it.