The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening Tools, Equipment and Buildings
Chapter: Chapter 5: Machines and Machinery

Plant props

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1973. Props for plants are of two kinds, rods or poles, and spray. Rods vary from six inches to six feet or upwards in length, tapering to a point, and thick in proportion. For small plants in pots, and for delicate bulbous roots, as hyacinths, small splinters of lath, dressed with a knife or small plane, are the best; and for hyacinths and florists' flowers in general, they should be painted green: for botanical plants, however, this may, in some cases, appear too formal. For hardy plants and climbing shrubs, young shoots or poles of hazel or ash from copsewoods are the most suitable; they should, in general, be straight, and tapering to a point; and as delicate as the weight of the plant, and the exposure of the situation, will admit. The side shoots of these props should, in most cases, be cut off; but in others, as in propping the dahlia, &c., it is desirable to have some lateral studs, from three to eight inches long, near the top, so as to spread out the head. In lieu of this, several props are sometimes used, placed in the form of an inverted pyramid or cone, or of a regular prism. One prop, however, judiciously managed, will generally be found sufficient. In no case should the bark be removed, because its natural tint is less glaring, and therefore preferable to that of peeled wood, and also because it preserves better the texture of the wood. In order that they may last several years, they should be cut in mid-winter, and the thick end pointed and charred by burning, or dipped in boiling pitch. The elegant propping of plants deserves the particular attention of the young gardener, as it is frequently done in so slovenly a manner as greatly to detract from the order and neatness which ought to reign in most descriptions of gardens. In pleasure-grounds or picturesque scenes, trees and shrubs should, in general, prop themselves, or each other; but in flower and botanic gardens, flower-borders, greenhouses, &c., the greatest degree of art and high-keeping, and a sort of drilled polish, easier felt than described, ought always to prevail. In all that respects this part of gardening, the French and Germans greatly excel the English, who are herein too apt to look at the end, without regarding the means.