Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Grow Over 20 Kinds of Vines

With 7 foot tall arbors surrounding the garden we needed vines. Vines to enclosed the back garden and create “walls”.  I have some twenty different hardy vines growing somewhere in the garden. Some are the same vines, different varieties. I have 5 different kinds of grapes, 3 different trumpet  honey suckle varieties, several clematis, polygonum aubertii, a bright pink and lavender perennial pea, Virginia Creeper, Campis radicans  and hops and more. Annual morning glories and scarlet runner beans are on a window arch.

Corner vines

To the right you can see grapes. Right in the corner is a hops and blended in to the left is some Virginia Creeper.  The Virginia Creeper  turns a pretty shade of red in the fall.  The hops grow rampant.  One of my hops vines last year wound it way up a tree.  As the vine ages it grows a thick trunk, maybe about 3” diameter and it takes some serious digging to remove it.  The hops flowers a dry papery cone like flower that later falls and can be messy.  They are fun to look at as they cling to the vine, staying all through winter.

Trumpet vine in arbor

Notice the large seed pods on the campis radicans This picture is taken from outside my fence. The dried up pods below the trumpet vine are from a lavender colored perennial pea.  You can also make out some of the details of the top of the arbor that enclose the yard.

Grapes have come to dominate the back garden. Last year I started removing the Hops and Virginia Creeper vines. 
So what characteristics keep me in love with a vine?  They all do have their uses. Here are some things I have discovered about vines:

1. Perennial vines like Grapes, Virginia Creepers, Dutchman's Pipes and Silver Lace vine  green up on old wood giving you immediate walls in spring. 

2. Hops grow really, really fast! We once measured a hops stem growing 6” in one day!  Hops have irritating little hairs on the undersides of their leaves. Giving some persons including myself a rash.  They grow a thick trunk and take some work to remove.  And, very important to know is that they follow the sun as they grow. So they will not cover an arbor if they are planted in the wrong place. They will grow straight up and intertwine with each other and fall towards the sun.

3. Flowering vines also like to face their flowers to the sun. So plant them so they face into your yard, not the neighbors.

4. Trumpet vines  seeds drop and easily sprout. The sprouts go deeply into the soil, making them a serious weed.  Also the stems of the trumpet vine are sharp and brittle.  Yes, they can poke your eye out.  I trim them high, after almost being poked in the eye. Ouch!  A plus for this vine is that the humming birds do love it and it stands upright like a little tree, instead of twinning like a vine.  Since I don’t use herbicides, I don’t think I could eradicate this vine if I tried. I can only imagine how deep the roots go.

5.  Some vines have seeds and fruits.  Robins love the grapes and berries of the Virginia Creeper.  Grapes need to be harvested. We pick about 100 pounds of grapes. That's a lot of grapes. Fortunately, I have friends who will take most of the grapes.  The birds get their share. You always know when the grapes are ready to pick. You can tell by the purple poop! Fortunately, I love to walk around the back yard early in the morning with a water hose.


  1. I love vines too! But, I only grow 2 different kinds. Maybe I need to follow your lead and plant some different varieties :^)

  2. Dear Gloria, I really feel that I am beginning to have a very clear picture of your garden for, in addition to your photographs, you paint such a very vivid picture in words.

    I love the idea of all these living screens at work in your garden to provide a vertical accent - such an important element and one which is often overlooked.

    The Campsis is a wonderful climber and I do envy your being able to grow it outdoors. In Great Britain it is really only suitable for cultivation within a glasshouse.

  3. Hi Gloria! You have really peaked my interest. I am looking for plants to serve as 'screens' for strategic privacy. Have you ever planted 'Sweet Autumn Clematis'? (the small star flowers are so sweet) -- I saw the plant at one of my favorite nurseries and I loved the fact that it flowered late in the season, when other perennials were starting to fade. It looked very vigorous, but I don't want anything invasive. Your thoughts? -Shyrlene

  4. Noelle, my mom used to qrow Chayote, a warm weather vine that produced a squash like fruit. If I could grow it I would. But, alas it takes a long growing season and we have 4 months, basically 120 days or so.

  5. Dear Edith, thank you. Your comment made me appreciate how we each should appreciate what we can grow. I love the pictures of beautiful lush English gardens, but everything has it's beauty.

  6. Hops and Virginia creeper are also very hardy. They both grow well in my zone 3 and did well in my zone 2 garden. I love your vine covered walls.

  7. Shyrlene - I do grow an Autumn Clematis. It is easy to cut back in late winter or very early in the season. It does flower, but I never really notice much of a scent. None of the clematis in my yard seem to set seeds. It could be because we are so dry and hot in the summer. But, downtown, along the creek there is wild clematis, I think it Clematis Virginiana that does self sow and look weedy. The Autumn Clematis is Clematis ternifolia and I think it would self-sow. But, the nursery should be able to tell you exactly what clematis they have and it's nature - Enjoy!

  8. I am impressed with your vines, Gloria! You are a fine Vine Lady.

  9. Gloria, I am a fanatic for vines! I can't believe you have 20+!! Honey suckle and the Carolina Yellow Jasmine are my favorites right now. Again, I know you're modest which is sweet, but I sincerely am in love with your garden!!!!

  10. Your vines are so impressive, both useful (for screening) and beautiful! I am going to try kiwi vine this year, Actinidia kolomikta, hardy to zone 4. I need to screen a utility box, and the foliage is a lovely pink-tipped variegated splash. I hope I have the success you do with your vines!

  11. Tatyana! you made me laugh - very clever!

    KImberly, you are so kind. I love the honeysuckles. I show kids how to suck the honey from the flowers.

    Laurie - I removed the kiwi vines I tried to grow. I think we are too dry. They did actually get like 2 little marble sized kiwi. I think kiwi was one of the first vines I tried to grow. This was before I realized our soils needed lots of compost to hold what little moisture we do get. I bet yours will do great - your garden looks beautiful and looks like you grow some things that I haven't.

  12. Vines are such a wonderful way to enhance your garden and cover those things you don't want to look at. I have a huge fence around my yard and slowly but surely I am getting vines along it. I enjoyed your post.

  13. Hi Gloria~~ We won't discuss how many vines I grow. I've lost count, a testament to my addiction. Mine are mostly Clematis and Honeysuckle. I didn't see Porcelain Vine among your throng. It too sprouts from old wood. The variegated variety will burn in full sun but is fabulous for part shade, in my garden anyway.

    I love your green walls. The sense of enclosure they provide really gives your garden an intimate, inviting appeal. I ditto Tatyana. You're a fine vine lady!

  14. I also enjoy using tripods in the garden. I marvel at the strength and aesthetics of yours.