In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
May, 2008
Regional Report

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Old or new, painted or not, wrought iron garden structures always get your attention.

Garden Structures

Most of my gardening is about the plants, but it's time to focus on the "bones" that too often disappear in the lush growth of summer. Gardens in our region are never without ample greenery that needs contrasting elements and color to define and show off its beauty. There's no time like May to take a good look at which structural pieces are working, and which are lost in the leaves.

The traditional garden room enclosed by walls can become a heat trap here, but there are smart alternatives for us. Set up a vertical view -- a trellis that holds lots of pots or an arbor arching over the path through the shrubbery. The strong upright lines break up the green fringe below and ease the transition to trees or houses above the garden beds.

Choosing a spot for a permanent view means taking a long, hard look around. Ever since Katrina knocked down the wooden fence on the north side of mycourtyard, the area is pleasantly sunny but also more windy than before. A simple lath baffle will let most of the sun and breeze in, while increasing both growing space and sense of privacy. If you need shade, put the gazebo in the sunniest spot to create an oasis. Remember, the point of structure is to show the plants off, not overwhelm them or be obscured by their vigor. Always leave enough room in your plan for structures to accommodate growth of the plants.

Safety First
No discussion of garden construction would be complete without a word about safety, both installation and maintenance issues. Don't create hazards; always anchor poles and posts in concrete for stability and secure all moving parts so they cannot become airborne in storms. Metal can become weak at its welds, screws get loose, and flaking paint is unattractive and can pollute the water feature below. Keep an eye on your structures and care for them so they can keep the garden in view.


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