Obviously, the Victorians of this sensitive "old-fashioned" school liked verticality in their gardens. You only have to see your dozenth photograph of a porch invaded by Dutchman’s pipe to get that message.
But it’s also clear that so many of the plants we moderns are offered by our nurseries have been bred down, made sturdier, and squatter for one reason only: because people no longer like to stake.
Don’t believe me? Look around your neighborhood. See any stakes? Certainly, I don’t. Even in the few places that are gardened in my part of the world, it’s all well-behaved mounds of veronica, geranium, sedum and coreopsis.
Well, I like height in a plant just as much as I like height in a husband. Myself, I’m kinda short. Vive la difference.
And many of the most sublime plants of summer demand staking. Delphiniums–not my favorite, but I do see the point. Oriental lilies–these, I’m obsessed with.
Yes, the catalogs offer "dwarf" varieties of both, but a pox on that. I don’t want to look down on the most beautiful flowers in nature any more than I want to look down on the Winged Victory. (Come to think of it, maybe somebody forgot to stake her, and that explains how she lost her head.)
Tall varieties of dahlias, too, are a great argument for bamboo. By mid-July, when both the gardener and those polite mound-forming plants are withering in the heat, there you have those big, fat dahlias riding above it all, producing flower after flower after flower. Filling your house with flowers, and then making more just because they are so damned happy that it’s summer.
A lot of staking going on
Of course, given my taste in plants, my yard generally resembles an acupuncture treatment gone terribly wrong.
I don’t care. There’s something to be said for any herbaceous plant that starts off in April as nothing but a brown nub or two and then by June, July, or August, has shot up into something so majestic that the 5’4" gardener is not just pleased, but humbled by it.
That, there, is the whole miracle of gardening in a nutshell. Those Victorian lunatics knew it and so do I.