Step 6: Beef Up Twig Supports for Peonies

Rather than buy clunky peony hoops or ugly tomato cages, Thyrza Whittemore reinforces her twig garden structures with plastic-coated metal garden stakes, spray-painted brown (rusted rebar can also be used), for plants that need heavy lifting.

To keep the nodding heads of her 36- to 40-inch-tall 'Festia Maxima' peonies upright (inset, below), Thyrza surrounds their bed with 3-foot metal stakes, driving them into the ground about 2 feet apart when the plants are 1 foot tall. Then she uses the stakes to secure twine that she runs in a grid through the bed, just below the flower heads, hiding it in the foliage; she adds another grid when the plants are 2 feet tall. "Take into account the height of your peonies so that the stakes don't stick up above their heads like they're in a corral," she says. Apple-twig X's tied to the outside of the stakes put a pretty face on the grid.
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    Tools List

    • gloves
      Gardening gloves
    • hand trowel
    • bypass pruners
      Anvil pruner

    Shopping List

    1. Branches, which can be gathered, or can be purchased at garden centers for about $20 for a bundle of 20 to 25

    2. Twine

    3. Potting soil 4. Seedlings

    5. Plastic-coated metal garden stakes

    6. Brown spray paint