Vines for the Garden

Fatshedera lizei
Fatshedera lizei

When yearning to enter the third dimension, when insisting to fill the vertical space, when inspired to lift up thine eyes, try growing vines in the garden.  The technical definition of a vine is: any plant having a long, slender stem that trails or creeps on the ground or climbs by winding itself about a support or holding fast with tendrils or claspers.   Are vines really one of the best kept gardening secrets?  When people enter a nursery, they almost always head for the flowers, the shrubs, the trees.  Often the vine bed is unknown and unseen.  There are some amazing plants that grow as vines and can fill interesting vertical spaces in a garden.  Fatshedera is a hybrid cross between english ivy and Japanese aralia, with big glossy green leaves.  It’s semi-evergreen and needs some protection from frosty temperatures.  I keep mine in a container and will move it into the garage during cold weeks.  I have the variegata variety, with yellow and cream showing up in unexpected patterns. One of my favorite leaves was split right down the middle, half green and half white.  Wisteria is a vigorous vine, growing quickly to cover a trellis, arbor or even a tree.  The long panicle flowers bloom purple or white in spring and scent the air with a sweet fragrance.  Hydrangea vine can cover a north-facing wall and is a good bet for a shadier spot.  There is one in my neighborhood that reaches up to the roof on a two story house.  A spectacular sight.  The lacy white flowers bloom in summer.  Another shade vine is Kadsura.  It holds most of it’s leaves in the winter and grows 8-15 feet.  Boston Ivy is famous for the fabulous fall color in bright reds, oranges and yellows.  The clinging tendrils can be hard to remove, but this plant will make a dense, even wall cover.  Leaves drop in the winter and grow again each spring.  The fuzzy kiwi vine has appealing leaves, and will produce fruit if both male and female vines are planted together.  Honeysuckle is famous for the deliciously fragrant flowers.  There are many varieties, shapes and sizes of this lonicera, both evergreen and deciduous.   These are only a small sampling of this favorable group of plants.  Vines create a complete garden and will add a new dimension to your display.

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