Plants: Vines

The Vertical Garden

Spatial awareness can be very different for different people. My favorite anecdote about this came from my mother,
who experienced the following many years ago:

As my mom approached a street in a residential neighborhood, she noticed a young girl on the curb, preparing to cross. My mother lightly touched the girl’s shoulder and then said “Now wait a minute. Do you remember what you must do before you cross the street?” When the girl shook her head, my mom continued, “Before you cross the street, you must look both ways.” The little girl studied my mother’s face and then arranged herself. Standing straight and tall, she spread her legs apart slightly , and then, slowly and purposefully as a pendulum , she looked up at the sky and then down to the ground!

Well, in our continual practice of looking to fit into this garden as much plant material as possible, our spatial consciousness has, in recent years, grown magnetically toward The Vertical. Fences, walls, chimneys, pergolas, obelisks, arbors, trellises, trees and shrubs- none have eluded our attention. All of these supports afford a spot for you to branch out and explore the wonderful world of vines. Vines are terrific for many reasons. Their foliage can simultaneously both cover and cover up a lot; they often are long-flowered; and they don’t usually cost a lot. Vines grown up a building, wall or fence can help that architectural feature blend in more with the natural environment. Vine variety is quite wide. Clematis are small leaved and can have large , medium and small flowers. We are very fond of the small bell shapes of the floriferous texensis and viticella clematis varieties. We grow many clematis through deciduous shrubs and up small trees and conifers. Honeysuckle, Lonicera, can have larger foliage but more spidery flowers, and they can bloom for a very long time. Ivy, Hydrangea vine, hops, actinidia (kiwi) all have large leaves, and ivy has the distinct advantage of providing attractive foliage throughout the winter. Both hops and Boston ivy have yellow forms. Kiwi vines, when a female and male are grown together, will provide wonderful sweet kiwi fruit in the fall. The size and shape of grapes, these kiwi are also eaten whole like grapes. Hydrangea vine and our favorite variety, Schizophragma Hydrangeoides Moonlight ( medium moss green with a dark moss green veining) have the largest flowers of any of our vines. The seven year wait that is usually required for them to begin to flower- is rewarded with elegant and stunning white lacecap flowers. They can be grown up large trees and chimneys without damaging them.

It can be particularly effective to plant two types of vine together. Clematis and lonicera make good partners because when the clematis gets brown stems and leaves on its lower half, the green lonicera leaves will cover them up. Likewise, climbing roses and clematis can make good companions when their blooming time overlaps. In addition to the many different varieties of flowering lonicera, there are also some recent introductions that are grown for their foliage.One Japanese lonicera has a small rounded pale yellow leaf w/ fine deep green veining. Another more recent introduction of japanese lonicera looks almost identical to the hydrangea vine, Miranda, with boldly variegated butter yellow and dark green small rounded leaves. The largest boldly variegated vine leaf is Ampelopsis . It has an amazing autumn berry display of purple and true turquoise.As it is a japanese beetle magnet in sun, it should be grown in part shade.

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