Gardens Illustrated
Natural support for pumpkins

Make your own plant supports and protection

Published: February 21, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Ideas for homemade garden structures made using natural materials, to give plants support and protection during the growing season

It takes just one or two heartbreaking losses to galvanise most gardeners into action to protect their plants. By using native materials and traditional methods you can create structures to safeguard your plants while also adding a great deal of character to your garden.


Woven cloche

A woven, bell-shaped cloche will protect small plants and seedlings from hens and pigeons, as well as providing some shade and shelter from adverse weather. You’ll need some basic basket-making skills to create a structure like this (find details of courses below and at, but once you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you’ll be able to create numerous cloches in various sizes. They look particularly striking when used en masse. Make them early in the year to ensure you have them to hand when you plant out small seedlings, such as lettuces.

A woven, bell-shaped cloche

Willow wreaths for pumpkins

Later in the year, harvested pumpkins and squashes will last far longer if you allow their skins to harden in the sun before storing. Perching your harvest on willow wreaths will reduce the risk of rotting caused by trapped water. The wreaths are made by twisting together several lengths of pliable willow to form a compact circle.

Natural support for pumpkins

Protection from birds

A twiggy cage is an attractive way to protect crops, such as young brassicas, from marauding pigeons while still allowing free movement of air. It’s made by pushing supple, twiggy branches of hazel or birch directly into the ground, then gently pulling the tops inwards and threading them under and over each other to form a natural-looking canopy.

A twiggy cage

Insulating cloche

You can also put your bell-shaped cloches to good use later in the year by stuffing them with straw or leaves. This will offer some protection from freezing conditions and winter wet. Perfect for protecting crowns of plants, such as globe artichokes, or dahlias tubers you’ve left in the ground.

Bell shaped cloche

Basket makers and suppliers

Words Kristy Ramage and Jacky Mills


Photographs Jason Ingram and Kristy Ramage


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