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Winter Plant Support Has to be Ugly

Another popular misconception…

I have a ‘Sky Pencil’ Japanese Holly near my kitchen door that is starting to approach basketball player status in height. If it could jump the NBA would have an exciting new player…all those branches to dribble with! Since this shrub is firmly rooted to the ground, however, it remains outside my kitchen door where every winter it gets bent over in an ice storm or heavy snow.  It doesn’t take much to support this plant, however. A tie that holds it to the building is enough.

Since the possibility of snow has been in the forecast recently I asked my husband to install an eye screw so that I could tie up the plant before the first storm. (OK, OK… I admit that this is a novel concept: support the plant before it needs it!) After the hardware was in place my husband asked if I needed rope. “Rope? No. I’m using ribbon.” Specifically moss-green shear organza ribbon. Strong, not too noticeable, and attractive.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m opposed to upholstering shrubs for winter protection…not to mention plants in bondage.  This doesn’t mean that I oppose all forms of support or cold season sheltering. It just has to look good.

There is a satisfaction that comes with doing something that is unexpected. Add to this the pleasure of making the functional be more beautiful and you’ve got a winter pick-me-up that doesn’t need to be confined to the garden. Think about it: a surprising, beautiful dinner created from colorful food such as red peppers, spinach and carrots; a candlelit bathroom with some rosemary stems tossed in the hot bath; some less familiar but gentle classical music playing while you work. Think outside your normal routine.

Well over six-feet tall, this 'Sky Pencil" Ilex crenata is upright until the snow arrives, but a simple support is all it needs.

Organza ribbon belongs in every gardener's supply closet. It's strong, attractive, and can be used to wrap presents as well.

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