Growing Up

Vertical gardening has become a way of life for many whose gardening space is limited. However, even those with extensive amounts of space enjoy the beauty of gardening upward. Extending the garden vertically adds a whole new dimension to the planting area. Vertical gardening provides an attractive way to screen an unwanted view, add interest to blank walls, or to separate the garden into individual compartments.

Vining plants like clematis, honeysuckle, grape, virginia creeper, and ivies are natural choices for elevation. Their beauty will cover walls, arbors, and gateways adding visual appeal throughout the changing seasons. Fences are often treated as merely functional elements. Openwork fences offer more possibilities than solid fences. Fences offer the perfect support for many vining plants. In addition to vines, window boxes and containers filled with blooming annuals and perennials add to the vertical landscape. Shelves mounted at various levels on blank walls make excellent sites for plant- filled containers. Hanging baskets surrounding doors, windows, porches, and balconies are an ideal solution for growing a variety of plants in a small area. Pots of various heights grouped together add vertical appeal as well as making maintenance easier.

Terraced slopes have been enjoyed for centuries. They are a dominant feature of many formal gardens. However, terraces are being used more and more by homeowners whose lots consist of steep sloping areas. They provide level areas of usable planting space. Steps are often needed to make the terraced area accessible. The stairway can be edged informally with creeping groundcovers or with plant-filled containers creating a more visual impact.

When choosing the plants for your area, be sure to consider the maintenance level required by the plant. Grape and large- flowered clematis will need annual pruning and maintenance to keep them looking their best. Hedges will need annual pruning as well. Containers will need watering on a daily basis. Some will require even more water as warm weather approaches and the plant's root system fills the container. Regular fertilization will be necessary to keep them blooming well. Housekeeping chores such as dead-heading and weeding will improve appearances. Some thought in the beginning as to how much time you are willing to devote to the garden will prevent future problems. Several vegetables can also be grown upward. Pole beans, lima beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and squash are examples of vegetables that can be grown vertically. Squash, melon, and pumpkin fruit will need some form of support as they develop to prevent them from breaking off. Small-fruited varieties are the best choice for vertical gardens. Cucumbers will develop nice and straight rather than curved. Tomatoes often produce earlier and larger fruits when staked and trained. Another advantage is cleaner fruit.

Vertical gardening offers more than a space solution. It provides opportunities for every gardening type.

This article originally appeared in the May 19, 1993 issue, pp. 1993 issue, pp. 72-73.


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