Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer vines

Vines have sometimes be relegated to the role of problem solver -- to cover an unsightly fence, provide privacy where needed or fill in an empty spot with something green. Evergreen vines such as morning glory, potato vine and royal trumpet vine are great for quick coverage and are generally easy to grow. But the world of vines is a vast one and so are its uses. You could group this category of plants in many ways but one simple way is this: evergreen 'coverage' vines, deciduous coverage vines, fragrant vines and smaller 'ornamental' vines.
Gardeners are naturally most familiar with the first category, comprising not only the three mentioned above but such sturdy choices as pandorea (Bower vine), evergreen passiflora varieties (passion flower) and the shade tolerant hardenbbergia. Good performers all.
Deciduous coverage vines have to include thunbergias (lazy Susan vine) which can even sometimes stay semi-evergreen, deciduous clematis varieties, red and pink flowering mandevillas and less common vines such as kennedia nigricans.
Fragrant vines feature the two most popular choices -- jasmine and honeysuckle -- but include a host of other sweet smelling vines. There's Mandevilla laxa (Chilean jasmine), with its intensely fragrant white flowers, plus the evergreen Clematis armandii and we can't leave out wisteria of course.
The words smaller & vine may seem contradictory but in fact there are many wonderful vines that won't go crazy and cover everything. One of my favorites is the deciduous perennial Asarina, a 6'-10' vine with delicate leaves and purple or white flowers. Like yellow? There's a yellow flowering bleeding hearts vine (Dicentra scandens) that is vigorous and a prolific bloomer. Speaking of yellow, there's nothing more charming than the aptly named annual climber, Canary Creeper. It's a nasturtium, though you wouldn't recognize it as such by the smaller, bright yellow flowers that resemble, well, canaries. Want something unique and very charming? Mina lobata (Spanish flag) performs a neat trick. It's flowers flush out bright red then age to coral, yellow and finally to white. This means that sprays of flowers contain all these colors. Wow.
Speaking of a change of color, it's worth mentioning one final vine. Cobaea scandens (Cup & Saucer vine) has an even more impressive trick. Its 'cups' start out green then gradually fill in to a rich burgandy color, kind of like the chesire cat appearing out of thin air.

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