It has been a long and difficult couple of weeks outside of the garden. Sometimes life is like that but that makes the garden all the more of a sanctuary from all that worries you. Fortunately, there hasn’t been too much to do in the garden as we are at the end of the season and not at the beginning. I think if I had to add the busyness of spring to my recent woes, I probably would have gone crazy!
In some of my down time I did a bit of garden related binge watching and soaked up anything I could find that would interest me and take me to the garden place that wasn’t possible in reality. While doing the binging I watched a show where Alan Titchmarch said something that I had being trying to get my head around for months and I’d even attempted complex mathematical equations. But the way he said it in a short simple sentence made the penny drop and it all made sense. He said: “The height of the windbreak x 5 is the distance of protection it will give.”
Looking at my garden, I can see it playing out in real life and now I know the magic formula I can see the invisible line where there is no longer protection from the wind, especially when a salt laden blow straight up from the ocean whips across our land. So now I have to work on improving the garden in a way that offers protection and is aesthetically pleasing.
I ended up having one of those ‘good ideas’ and initially I envisioned it on a much grander scale than it turned out. It started when I was walking past the compost pile and on the top were all my Muehlenbeckia trimmings from when I took some cuttings. All the leaves had fallen off and they just looked like a bit of a mat. Then I got to wondering and grabbed a piece of plastic trellis and quickly wove them through a section to see what it looked like and if it would make a pleasing and useful windbreak… It looked promising.
I just happened to have a new roll of black plastic trellis and an out of control Muehlenbeckia patch that needed attention. As this was all I needed I set to work pruning off long branches and stems and begun to slowly weave them in and out of the trellis until the squares seemed full. I whiled away a few hours, losing myself in my work.
At the end of that first day, I realized two things. Firstly, I need to wear gloves as the edges of the plastic trellis were quite brutal on my finger quicks as I pushed and pulled stubborn foliage in and out, over and over again. The other thing was, I hadn’t got very far, but I liked what I saw so there was no abandoning the project as an ambitious but impossible good idea. It was an ambitious idea, just not impossible. I just needed to be patient and approach it with a slow and steady frame of mind.
Eventually after days and days of snatched time here and there, I wove the last of the Muehlenbeckia through the last squares, stood back and felt proud of what I had achieved and delighted that I hadn’t given up. It wasn’t a close weave, as the plant material dried out it had shrunk a little, but this was the whole point, a wind break is supposed to slow the wind not block it completely.
I had decided I would use the woven panel to protect my rhubarb. Every season it starts with great potential, however, after a few spring storms it is completely knocked back and is a shadow of what it could have been. I grabbed some spare rebar posts I had and hammered them into the ground to a good depth and then carefully but firmly and thoroughly cable tied the panel to the posts. It does have a bit of flex in it, but I guess this will be ok and will help to slow the wind.
It looks pretty good there in the garden and knowing how much effort went into it makes me feel all the more pleased. Having said that, I don’t know how long it will last – hopefully longer than a season and I’d be pleased if it lasted a couple of years, but only time will tell. When it comes time to replace it, I doubt I’ll weave in some more Muehlenbeckia. I was patient this time, but knowing the effort taken, I’ll probably skip it next time and buy something suitable.
Come again soon – I can see another harvest needing attention.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
NB: Click on the small images for their descriptions.