Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Magic of Vines

As a small child, I loved the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. The idea of following a vine into the clouds and finding a exciting world full of magic and adventure stimulated my imagination.
Vines grow through a pergola at Phipp's Conservatory in Pittsburgh

So it is no wonder that vines still fascinate gardeners. But we've learned to be cautious. While the iconic Wrigley Fields' ivy covered outfield walls are beautiful, they require constant maintenance to keep the ivy trimmed and in check.Were it allowed to grow, Chicago's baseball park would have been buried decades ago. English Ivy is one of several vines to be wary of, but there are other beautiful vines that should be considered around our home gardens and landscapes.

 Here are a few of our favorites.

Clematis is a perennial; most prefer at least 6 hours of sun. There are hundreds of varieties from which to choose, and many are compact, great for pots and patio planters.
The clematis Giselle, bred by Raymond Evison, is at home in a pot or in the ground
Honeysuckle has a delicious fragrance and blooms that are very attractive to hummingbirds. The perennial vine can get out of hand; steer clear of Lonicera tatarica and L. Japonica as they can be too aggressive.
Honeysuckle can be tamed in a pot
Mandevilla remains a personal favorite. A tropical vine, Mandevilla blooms all summer, thriving on full to part sun. The old-fashioned favorite, Alice du Pont, is a vigorous grower. Mandevillas  are available in pink tones, red, white and, occasionally, yellow.

Of the many mandevillas available, the tried and true Alice du Pont is exceptional

Vegetable plants in the cucurbit family include cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins.
Trellises help keep fruit up off the ground and allow air to move through the plant decreasing the chance for disease on the foliage. Vegetables grown along fences are a wonderful way to save space in the garden.

Vines are at home in the vegetable garden, too

Annual, tropical, or perennial, vines serve the garden well. They create vertical interest, hide service areas around the home and provide nectar for many of our pollinators. And I still maintain that they can be a magical element in any landscape. Fee, fi, fo, fum...