By Marty Ross
Every year Lowe’s gives each of its regional garden writers an opportunity to turn $100 into something fun for the garden. I’ve rescued beat-up old porch swings and turned them into colorful garden benches, and (with a little help) constructed a bench designed by the great Midwestern conservationist and ecologist Aldo Leopold. This year the sky’s the limit: For my project I recruited my husband, and together we made a couple of great-looking obelisks for our garden.
Climbing vines of all kinds, trained on some sort of support, bring flowers up to eye level and beyond. Annual vines (cypress vine, hyacinth beans, morning glories) grow quickly and bloom prolifically through the summer.
One of my favorite vines is a native trumpet honeysuckle. Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’ is an evergreen or semi-evergreen honeysuckle with soft, yellow flowers. It grows to about 7 ft tall and blooms from midsummer until frost. Hummingbirds love it, and it makes a dramatic and long-lasting cut flower.
Vines need sturdy support. ‘John Clayton’ twines but doesn’t have tendrils. Mine scrambled up an old apple tree for a while, until the apple tree finally gave up the ghost and came down one stormy night.
For our new obelisk, we used four 8-ft-long 2x2s for the uprights, and 1x2s for the battens. The classic design fits in gardens of any style—and it’s just the right height for the honeysuckle. We spent about four hours working on the project, not including a trip to Lowe’s for supplies.
My vegetable garden also needed a lift this year: I’m growing cucumbers for the first time, and two kinds of pole beans. The ‘Patio Snacker’ cucumbers are in a big pot. The illustration on my seed packet showed the cucumber on a cute obelisk, and I don’t mind grabbing my inspiration wherever I find it.
We adapted the design into a square-sided, non-tapered obelisk made to fit snugly in the pot. The 1x2-in posts are 9 in apart and 4 ft tall, which should work out just about right for the cucumber. (The vines are supposed to grow to 3 to 5 ft, climbing with tendrils.) We look forward to harvesting a lot of great pickling cucumbers and we’re already enjoying the obelisk.
Check out my video below to see how we took our garden up to the next level with an obelisk.
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