Building with branches and covering in plants!

catnohat(5)March 17, 2013

My husband and I are going to be building a pergola in this corner of the yard in the next couple weeks hopefully. My friend is going to be delivering the wood on Tuesday. We are using branches from her property. I am very excited about it. My husband is a cabinetmaker and we have poured many a concrete hole, so I am confident we can make it stable. However, I would like to collect advice and inspiration on several aspects of this project. Since this picture was taken, I have hacked the lilac in half as it was very thin and sad looking having lived under an old elm that was just cut down last year. Most the snow has melted, and I finally put away the tomato cages.... anyway.. When I dream of what I want in this corner of the yard it's of a romantic secret garden type of space. I want a rustic pergola covered in flowers with tall plants everywhere, creating a dramatic and kinda private space.

I was wondering if anyone here has built any structures, furniture, trellises or art with logs and branches. I would love to see pictures. And if so, did you put a sealant on it? What kind?

Another big question for me is, what kind of climbers to plant. I have a clematis that is not happy in its present home, I may transplant it. I'm also thinking climbing roses, grapes, moon flowers maybe. I am impatient and want fast growers. You can see the fence/snow/shade line in the picture. The poles I'm putting closest to the fence will probably go right along where the snow is melted. I want to grow something between the fence and the pergola that will climb up between them. So the base of the vine would be in the shade. It would have to climb, but not too far, to get much sun. That might be ok for a clematis right?

What about moon flowers? I have never been able to grow them, I have planted seed a couple times with morning glorys but never had any grow. Lots of morning glorys though. I'm planning to try again. Do they like full sun around Denver area?

Another thing. I was at Home Depot and could not help myself and I bought a white climbing iceberg rose. A moment of weakness. It looked really nice with four green 8 inch "growths"/sticks on it. Let it be known I have never grown roses. I killed one once but I really want a beautiful climber. But how long can I keep it alive in this bag? Should I put it in a pot until I get it in the ground?

I have a big yard that needs lots of work, but has lots of potential! Bring on the advice.... by the way, shouldn't whisperings of the spring swap be on the wind?

One more question. If you were getting ready to jump on a website and order a few perennials where would you order from? I would like somewhere relatively close so they wouldn't have to travel too far. I live way out in Brighton and there is no where close by and I want a good selection.

Thanks everyone!

I tried the photo bucket links for a couple pics, not sure it worked....I'll find out I guess.

This post was edited by catnohat on Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 12:04

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Picture this time?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Hmmm pictures

This post was edited by catnohat on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 23:33

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:31PM
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So I just did each picture separately because I'm tired and I couldn't figure it out.... There's most of my back yard. I would love to see pictures of everyone's yards and spring projects!

This post was edited by catnohat on Sun, Mar 17, 13 at 23:41

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:36PM
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david52 Zone 6

For a structure thats going to hold up vines, its pretty hard to over-engineer. I have something that uses 4x8 vertical posts and frame, with 2 x 10 beams on 18 inch centers, then I put a narrow trellis up each post and a couple of cattle panels on top for the vines to cling to. Its 12 x 20 feet. We can walk on the thing. Its held up a grape vine that had a 6" dia trunk and covered half of it, the other half with roses and clematis.

I think if you think in those dimensions for the posts and frames, you're going to be ok.

Oh, and build a concrete base for the pillars and put in some sort of steel bracket in the cement, not the wood. Use the bracket to attach the upright to the cement. That ways the wood won't rot.

As hard as they are to resist, a friendly word of advice re Walmart roses. Your survival rate will be around 2% :-(. You might try potting that up now with a 2 gallon pot, and putting it in a sunny window, that might increase your chances.

As for vines, probably the most fun is some of the short season grapes - nimrod, etc. They're so many good kinds out there - not the tasteless glop balls we get in the store. I'd plant two on each post, let them duke it out for the strongest, at some point prune out the weakling, and you'll have your structure covered in no time.

Don't plant a wisteria, trumpet vine, english ivy, clematis montana, and I'm sure others will add to the DON'T DO THIS!!!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 7:31PM
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Thanks for the input David. Good to know I need to put steel brackets on the shopping list. I think my structure will be about half the size of yours, but I want it sturdy for many years! Did you put a sealant on yours?

The rose is actually from Home Depot, so hopefully it has a little better chance.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:10AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I'm not a big fan of the big box stores for plants, but I have to say that particular rose looks really good to me! Four nice thick and evenly spaced canes, and they look nice and green in the pic--probably because you got it not long after it came in! I agree with David to plant it in a two gallon pot (in store bought potting soil--not Hyponex!), but I'd recommend keeping it in a fairly cool place so it grows slowly and doesn't get a lot of long, very tender shoots that might break off very easily when you put it in the ground. If you're able to have it outside in at least part sun during the day and put it in a cold garage or something overnite, that would be good, or just leave it outside overnite if it's gonna be above freezing, or put a corrugated cardboard box over it over nite to protect it from the cold. When you take it out of the package to plant it you might want to prune the roots a couple inches--2-4", which I'm recommending based on helping to plant 18,000 of them one year at Paulino's--they root pruned all of them (all received bare root in huge boxes!) They also pruned a little bit off of the top of the canes, but yours really looks pretty good to me so from what I can see I think I'd skip that for now and wait to see how it looks when it starts to grow! If you've kept it inside since you got it, start keeping it in an unheated garage or somewhere (fridge would work) so it's already acclimated to the cold if you're gonna grow it outside--with a little protection.

What David says don't do---DON'T DO! I'll add Virginia Creeper, Boston Ivy, and Silver Lace Vine! Only some of the Clematis are invasive, usually the ones with very small flowers--but check out any you're thinking of. The ones with the bigger flowers aren't invasive that I know of. Clematis want "cool feet" (a/k/a roots!) and sun on top so the planting spot you described should be great! If you decide to leave the one you have where it is, mulch it thickly on the bottom or plant something there that will shade the soil.

Lots of people love them but I don't recommend morning glories! I wanted something FAST for lattice when I moved in here so I planted some! I haven't planted any for AT LEAST four years and I STILL have seedlings coming up all over the place!

When I was looking for a grape I did a bunch of research and 'Reliance' sounded really hardy and good to me--and that's what I got (no fruit yet), it's a seedless red table grape.

Can't help with pergola construction advice!!!

Come back and post pics when you get it done!


P. S. Just noticed your question about where to buy perennials. On the "Just moved here..." thread I linked to a thread from last year about where people liked to buy things. Check that out for some possibilities.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:08AM
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Thanks Skybird, I will check out that link. And I promise, I won't DO IT! I will not plant the nasty invasives! If I had a really big piece of land I might not be able to resist wisteria, but I know better for my yard.

I think I will try moving the clematis, but let me tell the history of this particular plant. My husband and I bought our house 12 years ago. The clematis was growing up the back porch beautifully. It was gorgeous! It faced East and got shade the second half of the day. Not sure what kind it is but it had four inch purple blooms. Then we got a dog who chewed it off at the ground! In an effort to save it, I moved it to the front yard about 7 years ago. It has failed to thrive as the old elm in the side yard and the old elm in the front yard died off and were cut down. So there went it's part shade. Now I only get scraggly 2 inch blooms! So this plant is at least 15 years old. I think I will try moving it, if it dies so be it, I want to put something else where it is now. A question though, if I put this on the Southwest corner of my pergola, will all the blooms turn south? This would leave them facing the fence and not what I would want. hmmm.....

As for the rose, I bought it 3 days ago. I do think they had just arrived at Home Depot, because the rack was full and everything looked pretty good. They were keeping them between the entrance doors, so not completely outside. I have had it in the house since I got it and I see little growths starting to poke out everywhere. I am off work today, so I think I will pot it up and put it outside in part shade for the day. I might do the cardboard box over it at night and pull it close to the house. It can be out with my wintersown milkjugs. (Yeah my spinach and lettuce sprouted a couple days ago!) I have a small house and no good south facing windows for it to hang out in, so it needs to go outside.

What about moonflowers? Anyone have any luck with them? I have self sowing morning glories on a fence along my driveway, so I know how they can be. I will probably avoid putting them on the pergola, but they are so fast growing, it is very tempting!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:08AM
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david52 Zone 6

We didn't use wood sealant, there's no real need in this dry climate. The wood turns a natural grey.

Your clematis is going to show blooms to which ever side(s) gets the most sun exposure.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:27PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Cat,

I'm not sure exactly how big the flowers are on it, but I'm guessing your clematis is C. jackmanii. It's one of the most common ones and when it blooms it's completely covered in purple! The "top" of clematis can take all the sun you can give them--as long as you're able to keep the root area cooler, so possibly the roots have just been unhappy as the plant has gotten more sun. When you move it I recommend cutting it down to about a foot above the ground first, then digging it and knocking much/most of the soil off of the roots before replanting. (Be sure the soil is "moist," not soggy and not dry when you dig it.) That should give the whole thing a nice fresh start, and unless there's something else wrong with it it should get going well again by next year. One other thing! I've never divided a clematis, so I'm not sure about this, but when you dig it and are knocking the soil off you could look to see if it's possible to try to "divide off" some sections of the newer growth around the edges and then just throw out the oldest growth in the center of the root ball. To be able to divide it you'd need to be able to get pieces of crown with roots attached--they wouldn't need to be big pieces. If you can do that you could either plant all the "pieces" as one plant or plant them in different places as several new plants! If clematis continue to be just one big main crown at the bottom it wouldn't be possible! Maybe if David sees this he can tell you if they're dividable--he does clematis--including jackmanii I believe!

The only plant I know of where the flowers "follow" the sun is sunflowers. But many other blooming plants do have a tendency to bud and flower on the sunniest side--not sure about clematis! If it's not directly against a wall or something now, have you noticed where the flowers are when it blooms in it's current location? Otherwise my guess would be that at least most of the flowers will be oriented toward the sun--but I think that will be true for virtually any blooming anything you have out there. The darker it is under the pergola, the less likely it will be that you'll have flowers "facing in!"

Your rose should do very well outside. After a day or two move it into a mostly sunny location--during the day at least, and cover it for the first few nites, and after that don't cover it unless we're getting down near freezing--maybe anything colder than about 35. It probably wouldn't even need to be covered then, but if it gets TOO cold the new growth WILL freeze (won't hurt the plant!) and it will need to start growing all over again, delaying it. Keeping it outside will keep it growing more slowly for now at least (and get you better quality growth), but keep in mind that the bigger the new growth gets, the harder it'll be to work with to transplant it, so try to get it in the ground while it's still small enough to work with!

"Moonflower" is a common name for several different plants, and I don't know which one you're asking about! The main thing I know as a "moonflower" is a short bushy Datura that opens as it's getting dark out--not a vine at all! I've also heard morning glories (Ipomoea) called moonflowers so I though maybe that was what you were referring to! Is there something that's not an Ipomoea that you're asking about? Just curious, really, 'cause if there is I don't think it's something I'm gonna be able to tell you about anyway! Maybe somebody else around here knows about the kind of moonflower you're talking about.

I'd post a pic of my backyard--but--there's really nothing to see! It's just grass with perennials around the edges, a small shed in one corner, and bird feeders--LOTS of bird feeders in the middle! It's way smaller than yours and no possibility at all of putting in something like a pergola!


    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:11PM
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david52 Zone 6

That clematis does sound like a jacmanni, its one of the better varieties for the climate.

As for digging one up to transplant/division, its possible - but a word of warning, the ones I've tried, the root mass was much, much bigger than I expected. Like a ball, 3 feet in diameter. If you think about it, the roots store enough energy to have the vines growing 3-6" a day in the spring, and thats a lot of roots.

But it sounds like you have nothing to lose, if its not thriving where it is now. And you're likely to at least get a big chunk of root/stem, and transplant that. Who knows what you'll find, the root mass might be wide and shallow, not deep, and easy to divide.

Now would be the time to do it, before they start shooting green growth.

Edited to add, that right now, I'm eyeballing one by my gate that was planted when the shrubs and trees were small, but now is almost totally in the shade and won't flower. The problem I have is that its both sides of the fence. But I may go ahead and try, anyway, figuring there's nothing to lose.

This post was edited by david52 on Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 11:59

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:58AM
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I received a Timberline Gardens newsletter recently and they are having a class on April 20th called "Vines: Inglorious Beasts and Gorgeous Treats". I thought of this discussion when I saw that.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:43AM
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My pergola project has stalled. My husband has been on 10 hour days at work for quite awhile now. He is a woodworker, so he comes home too tired to want to build things for me! Of course I had my son's graduation memorial day weekend, so we didn't get to it. I tried to talk my dad and brother in law into dragging him out there, but it didn't work! Anyways, we do have 8 posts cemented into the ground and I dug all the weeds out from under it. I bought a gold flame honeysuckle to go on one corner. I'm very excited about it. I wanted to show a picture of the climbing rose I bought way back in March. I put it in a pot and it has been doing great! It's from Home Depot. I know some of you don't like to buy the big box store plants, but this one is taking off! Now if I can just get my husband to finish my pergola so I can get my plants in the ground!


    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 10:15AM
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Your rose looks great! I just wanted to mention that most of my plants have come from either Home Depot or Lowe's, and for the most part they are all gorgeous! I select them carefully when I buy, and the ones that don't make it go back within the year for a refund. For the money they are usually so much bigger than what I can afford at a nursery. I do need to do lots of research before I buy, because sometimes the info on the tags doesn't agree with the info I find on my favorite planting sites.

So not to disagree with the others, but I just wanted to encourage you in your general I have had very good success with the big box stores' plants. They are second only to the plants I've gotten at the fall plant swaps! ;)


    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 11:21AM
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I agree, the only problem I've had from the plants I've bought from Lowe's or Home Depot were self induced--not looking at the hardiness zones or not hardening off properly. For the price you can't beat them.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:47AM
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david52 Zone 6

Re roses from Home Depot and Lowes - thats good to know.

Walmart roses - the $2.98 kind - were notorious for having all kinds of fancy names and patent numbers like "6" but all showing up as Dr Huey, having that 'rosette' virus, and a few other problems - but that was years ago and I don't know if they've cleaned up their act.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:31PM
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b2alicia(zone 5 Westminster)

Great projects, Cat! Good luck with your roses , and your clematis!

btw, I love your green bean teepee from the other post. I saw it on Pinterest. What a dangerous place!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 12:43PM
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It's finally built! I still have to put the plants around it and put in the floor. It's coming though...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Side view!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:16AM
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So my Home Depot rose has grown beautifully. I have been very impressed with it. I got it planted on the corner of the pergola. It seems very happy there and has bloomed. It has bright fuchsia flowers.... ummmm wait, it was supposed to be white. The color scheme was supposed to be white, purple and dark red....If only it was accidentally red or light pink. I can't deal with bright pink there. It is going to have to be replaced. I am struggling with where I will put it, but if I leave it there, it will drive me crazy FOREVER, or until I move. UGH


    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 6:59PM
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