As it turns out, this didn't completely work. There were three problems with the new setup:
- Some of last year's annuals, particularly the bachelor buttons, reseeded themselves—but because of the way they all flopped over last year, the new plants ended up outside the borders of the flowerbed with its twine grid. So we had a bunch of really tall flowers right in the front, concealing everything behind them.
- The arrangement we contrived with the twine and string wasn't quite as secure as we would have liked. The strings didn't stay put very well on the smooth stakes; once the flowers started to bend and put their weight on them, they pushed the string down instead of being held upright by it.
- The grid we'd made was very loose, so although it helped a bit to hold the flowers up, it did nothing to keep them from falling over sideways. Thus, instead of a bunch of flowers all flopped forward, we ended up with a tangled mess of blooms pointing every which way.
The one interesting and unexpected perk of the new arrangement is that we discovered a morning glory vine, which certainly wasn't part of our wildflower seed mix, twining itself quite happily up one
So what we've planned for next year is something a bit more rigid, with smaller gaps. A coarse wire mesh, rather like the stuff our groundhog fence is made from, would have openings wide enough to let the flowers grow through, but narrow enough to keep them from bending too much in any direction. Brian says he'd prefer something made of plastic rather than wire, but I'm afraid it might look too obtrusive. We'll have to see what's available at our local home centers.
Of course, that still leaves the question of what to attach the mesh to, and how. We need to mount a horizontal sheet of it at a height of maybe two feet, and possibly even a second sheet above that to hold up the really tall flowers, and the bamboo stakes probably won't be suitable for that purpose. So we may need to buy some metal posts as well to secure everything in place. Brian is convinced we can just figure it out as we go, but I'd feel better about the plan if it were a little more concrete. (If I can't make a list with items that I can cross off as I finish them, I always feel a bit lost.)