The higher that flower reaches, the more precarious her situation grows. All it takes is one rollicking thunderstorm – one gusty day in an otherwise fair week – and your fabulous flower is flat.
If you garden fairly seriously, staking is one of the necessary evils of life. You can put it off for awhile – just as you might the balancing of your checkbook – but sooner or later you’re going to pay a price. Now, with some fast talking and low-level groveling at the bank you may be able to extricate yourself from a sticky situation, but no amount of pleading will make your delphiniums stand up straight after they’ve floundered face-first into the mulch. Injuries may include, but are not limited to, crushing, tearing, breaking and yes, even amputation. Mother Nature takes no prisoners.
Staking plants is a tedious job; but this gardener finds it far more tedious to anticipate the striking contrast of Easter Egg Iris against Sensation Allium….only to find them all collapsed in a sorry heap of foliage and flower one short day after blooming.
Like it or not, the professionals don’t fool around here. Next time you are mesmerized by the incredible border displays at the Huntington, or Longwood, or Sissinghurst for that matter, take a deeper, impertinent look at the underwear on those beauties.
It may not be immediately noticeable – a skilled gardener can stake a stand of digitalis with such finesse that visitors’ eyes skim right past without ever seeing it. With only two to four weeks of bloom from such favorites as Phlox, Peony, Alcea and Delphinium, every minute counts, and stems are often staked before they actually flower.
So, as stewards of our little Edens, we have two choices. Either grow dwarf varieties and proven winners in the Rigidity Sweepstakes (such as Leucanthemum suberbum “Becky” or Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’); or learn how to stake our precious plants with maximum speed and minimal injury.