Thompson & Morgan
obelisks

What are obelisks and how do I use an obelisk in my garden?

Whilst the function of an obelisk in any garden is to provide support for climbing or rambling plants, there is no reason why the form of the obelisk cannot be a work of art in itself. We have in the past had our giant flower tower, but something of a more suitable scale can enhance your garden all year round.


These delightful garden structures ideally need to look good “naked” if they are going to be used for plants that will die down in winter. They will give your out of season garden some interest too, especially if you have different types and sizes positioned through your beds, borders or patio. Whether you are aiming for a modern chic look, a traditional country cottage garden style or something unusual and exotic, there are many shapes and sizes to choose from.

obelisks

A traditional wooden garden obelisk has tended to be an elongated pyramid shape or a simple upright column of supports, probably derived from the original use of bamboo canes as a functional support for crops such as Runner Beans in a wigwam. Now there is a far greater choice of styles and materials available, so the type of obelisks you put in your garden is really a matter of where you are going to position them and the purpose they are intended for.

If you are looking to help support border plants that tend to get top-heavy and fall over when they are in full bloom then ideally a shorter, small wooden obelisk or metal type would be the best option, probably one that is under 120cm (48”) will do the job well without being too tall.

obelisks
obelisks

For climbing plants, a higher obelisk will be better. Some plants will naturally twine around the uprights whilst others will need tying on with a soft garden string. Something to consider is the number of uprights an obelisk has, and the width of the gaps between them as this will obviously effect the density of the growth you see, if the gaps are small then the density of foliage and flowers will be greater, better for the sweet peas or honeysuckle for example, whereas wider gaps will allow clematis or jasmine to stretch and grow more naturally and give you a better effect.

If you are looking to help support border plants that tend to get top-heavy and fall over when they are in full bloom then ideally a shorter, small wooden obelisk or metal type would be the best option, probably one that is under 120cm (48”) will do the job well without being too tall.

obelisks

Materials

The traditional material for garden obelisks was a simple wooden structure, sometimes with a finial at the top to make it look less functional and more decorative. The type of wood will affect the price greatly, oak will be very expensive whilst treated softwood will endure our winters (and summers) for 10 – 15 years at a fraction of the cost. Woven Hazel and Willow structures are also available and are usually used for sweet peas.


Metal obelisks are becoming more popular due to the huge variety of shapes that it can be moulded into. Many of them come ready made so there’s no need for fiddly self assembly and they can also come pre painted in a variety of colours too, some are even works of art in themselves and you may be tempted to leave them to decorate your garden as they are!

Positioning

Obelisks can look good almost anywhere in a garden or in a large pot on the patio. Making sure you have the right one for the plant you are pairing it up with will determine whether the impact you desire is achieved. Check to make sure of the plant’s ultimate height and spread or the obelisk could look out of place or be overwhelmed and lost in the growth. Some of the obelisks available have longer legs than necessary so that they can be pushed into the soil to give them plenty of support whilst others free stand on the surface and may need pegging down in windier areas, it pays to check the position first to see if it might need some extra help staying upright in harsher weather as there’s nothing worse than seeing a wonky obelisk! Think “outside the box” too, why not use them to mark pathways, or even decorate them with solar powered lights to illuminate your garden in a spectacular fashion during the summer nights.


Whichever shape, size, style or even colour garden obelisk you choose, they are guaranteed to add structure and interest to your outdoor spaces, provide support for your plants and will look good all year!


View our range of obelisks.

obelisks

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Written by: Graham Ward

I’ve been gardening for as long as I can remember, my first earliest memory being planting Graham Ward
seeds in my Grandfather’s prestige flower bed and having a prize lettuce growing there, which he proudly left to show everyone.

Since then, gaining knowledge and experience from both my Grandfather and my Father, I’ve continued to garden, both as a hobby and later on as a professional gardener and landscaper for 12 years. I love all aspects of it, from the design and build, to the planting out of summer borders with plants you’ve either grown from seed or raised from plugs. Unusual varieties always catch my eye and I’m keen to try growing them, even if sometimes it means learning from my mistakes.