Obelisks

Render of the obelisk…
Retrospectively, I think this was easier to make than to model!

Gloria and I both loved courgettes, they were among the first things we grew, before even the raised beds existed, what we didn’t know however was how much space they took up. Their ground coverage was huge, and a couple of plants took up a large area of prepared ground.

Browsing through seed catalogues the winter after our first experience with them I found an F1 Hybrid variety called “Black Forest” which was a climber, supposedly growing with a spread of a mere 24″.

As it happened I had also just finished building the greenhouse, which had four 24″ square brick-built beds on one side for a 48″ cold frame. The idea was that we could move the cold frame along the bed covering a pair of 24″ beds as required. Leaving the cold frame in the middle, however, left us with two 24″ beds at the ends we could use for courgettes.

A real one – just waiting for the courgette to figure out it can climb (helped by the strings wrapped around the cane)…

All I needed now was something to make some frames out of.

It was at this point that Gloria showed me some pictures of garden obelisks she’d found in a catalogue and my idea for a couple of simple wooden frames went out the window.

The first year we grew the new variety I made a couple of frames out of bamboo canes, just to see if the idea would work. It did, and I was amazed to see heavily laden courgette plants over five feet high.

The big issue was the weight of the fully laden plants, so over the next winter I created a couple of (Gloria approved) obelisks from 15mm copper pipe and plumbing fittings.

The design was “tweaked” over a couple of years to provide a method of anchoring the frames to the bed using bent “rebar” (they blew over in the wind a couple of times, fully laden) and to provide an anchor for a central bamboo cane which provided more support for the plants as they grew.

One of the ‘rebar’ ground anchors

While they look quite complex, they were easy to make, if a little time-consuming. Carefully soldered together with the aid of a blowtorch, (ignoring the burns when accidentally picking up the wrong end of the pipe), after a few weeks out in the weather, they developed a nice dark, almost bronze, patina.

The inclusion of the self-tapping screws provided anchor points for string supports threaded through the square “hole” at the top.

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