In spite of – or perhaps because of – the many virtues that vines hold they should be planted with discrimination and respect. Too many vines are too much of a good thing. Misplaced, they are an eyesore. Growing rampant, untrained and unpruned, their disorderly conduct creates a bramble patch.
First of all, a vine must have a definite purpose to serve, a clearly visualized decorative effect to achieve. In selecting the specific vine, several qualities should be kept in mind
Consider, of course, a vine’s color, texture, structural form, at its ultimate maturity. Know that it will neither overwhelm its allotted space nor be dwarfed by it. And consider a vine’s “personality.” Native vines lend charm to a country setting; suave, sophisticated types fit into formal gardens. And consider growth cycle – annuals for quick or changeable effect; perennials more continuing and permanent. Of the woody vines, use evergreens where you need year-round greenery, deciduous types where the tracery of bare stems in winter is to your advantage.
Consider a vine’s climbing habit in relation to the spot where it will grow and the support it will grow on. Stem or tendril twisters need something slim, like wire; clingers will adhere to a rough surface.
And, of course, take hardiness and cultural requirements into account. It’s wasteful to plant a sun-lover where it will be shaded by a tree or wall, a shade-lover where the sun will burn it. Virginia’s favorite vines are risky in northern Maine, or desert growers on California’s cool, foggy coast. Cultural factors should be explored before planting. Your local nurseryman can also tell you what grows well in your area. In a nutshell, be sure you get the right vine for the right decorative purpose, planted in the right place.
Beautiful landscapes are not completed in a season. Long-lived plants take time to establish themselves and provide shade or screening, become a specimen, or cover a wall. While you wait, or whenever you need a thriving vine in a hurry, plant seeds of annuals, or perennials that flower the first season.
There are annual vines and garden vines in scale with small gardens and large ones; to train over fences, wire, twine, netting, trellises, or posts; to climb up and drape a mailbox or scramble down a stony bank. In sections where growing seasons are short, seeds should be started indoors in spring – the vines have a long way to grow. Once they’re outdoors in warm ground, where they get plentiful sun, moisture, and fresh-air circulation, they’ll grow on their own with little care. They make a brand-new house with barren surroundings look like home in a few short weeks.
The familiar morning glories are by no means all the annuals (or tender perennials grown as annuals) you have to work with. There are many colorful and rewarding plants.
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