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A telephone pole is just a telephone pole – unless you jazz it up and make it look prettier. And that’s what I’ve done to a couple of those unobtrusive at best, ugly at worst, brown columns of wood that support the electric and telephone wires that run along the street in front of my house.

Telephone poles can be even worse than just big, dead pieces of wood stuck in the ground. Those poles sometimes need guy wires for lateral support. To keep anyone from tripping over such wires, their lower 10 foot sections are usually girdled in bright yellow, hard plastic sheaths. Very functional and very ugly.

One day a few years ago I looked upon telephone poles and their guy wires in a new light: trellises! I’m frequently building arbors and trellises to support various vining plants, and here was a ready-made trellis just waiting to be clothed.

So I went to work planting. On one guyed pole, I removed the yellow plastic sheath and planted trumpet honeysuckle where the guy wire entered the ground. On an unguyed pole I loosely stapled a girdle of chicken wire, then planted the base of this pole with another trumpet honeysuckle.

The poles and wires look beautiful now, both dripping with the scarlet blossoms which are now at their peak color that will continue, with lesser force, all summer long. Clematis would be another vine suitable for dressing up a telephone pole or its guy wire, as would hardy kiwifruit, trumpet vine, and silver fleece vine.

Note: Don’t try this at home. I was recently informed that, as owner of the telephone poles and guy wires, the electric company decrees that nothing should be trained on them. (How about just planting at the base of a pole or wire and letting Mother Nature take her course?)

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I know that I’m allowed to plant anything – well, almost anything – in my vegetable garden. How about the lowly cabbage?

If you read the instructions on a packet of cabbage seeds, you’ll be directed to eventually space plants 2 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart. That’s a lot of space for one plant, so I’m breaking that “rule.”

My vegetable garden has beds, each 3 feet wide, rather than rows. Eighteen-inch-wide paths flank each bed. A bed of recently planted tomatoes has two rows of tomato transplants about 2 feet apart, with each transplant is spaced about 18 inches apart in the row. (That’s a close spacing but the tomatoes are each going to be growing up their own stake and pruned to only a single stem, which gives less tomatoes per plant but more tomatoes per garden area than tomatoes allowed to sprawl.)

Those tomato transplants are still small and I hate to see such an expanse of bare real estate in the middle of the bed. So that’s where I plunked down cabbage transplants, 18 inches apart. I figure that the staked tomatoes will be growing up while the cabbages are growing wide. By the time tomatoes begin to shade the whole bed and everything gets crowded, the cabbages will have made it into salads, slaw, and sauerkraut.

2 Comments

  1. Posted June 11, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Lee,

    My neighbor is an electrician and he says “Sure, plant whatever you want around the pole [and wires], as long as you are willing to lose it when the power company comes in and clears it all out whenever they need too.” With that in mind, I’m sure Hardy Kiwis would love it, as would Wisteria 🙂

    Ron

  2. Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    i love that idea!! i want to sneak a few seeds by our telephone pole 🙂

    (btw..post *larger* pics of your glorious garden!)

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