Vines and arbors bring enchantment to landscapes


December 29, 2005

JEAN WOFFORD - Victoria County Master Gardener


Photos: Victoria County Master Gardener Jean Wofford  (To be posted soon.)

Moonflower vines are very easy to start from seed and have big bright white blooms. They bloom at night, and, if it's cloudy, they will stay in bloom most of the day. 


Anyone can plant vines in his or her garden. Space is not a factor since vines are really vertical gardening. They really bring enchantment to the landscape.


There are many different types of vines. There are some, like ivies, that attach themselves to walls, posts or other supports. Recent cool weather reminds me of the varieties of ivies and vines that do not freeze and will remain green through frost. Some of these are Algerian ivy, star jasmine, Carolina jasmine and honeysuckle. Wisteria will not freeze but will lose its leaves.


There are some that are "leaners," featuring long stems that do not have any built-in structures for supporting the plant. They must be tied or woven through a support. An example is a climbing rose.


Some have tendrils, modified stems or leaves that reach out from the stem and wrap onto supports, such as pea vines, clematis and passion vine.


To add enchantment to your landscape through the use of vines and arbors, you first will need a place for your vines to grow. In my garden, I use a myriad of supports for vines. When we moved into our house, there was a children's wooden gym set in the yard. I debated having it taken down, but decided that it would make a good support for a vine.


On one side, one of my neighbors had put a length of cyclone fencing, and I immediately had another support for vines.


We also had a lot of wood fencing and I knew that, too, would make a good support for some vines. However, I needed more. So, I got a friend of ours to make a large arbor over the long gate, also a very long arbor to house a future vine. I also have another arbor, a lovely mesquite tree that will make a good support.


On one support, I have a wonderful vine called rangoon creeper. This vine is very heavy and is a great bloomer. It blooms in clusters of small tubular shaped flowers that range from almost white to the brightest red. I get a flush of bloom in the spring and fall, with random blooming during the summer. It does die back in cold weather, but comes back in the spring.


I also have an evergreen wisteria that blooms off and on all summer. It has a very unusual maroon bloom. As its named implies, it is evergreen. This is a vigorous vine and well worth the effort to locate and plant one.


On my old mesquite tree, I have a wisteria that bloomed for the first time this past spring. This is such a wonderful, fragrant bloomer. However, you must have patience with this vine. It can take a few years to bloom, but it is worth the wait.


On my old gym set, I have clematis that has a very simple light lavender bloom. It is a single petal and is just beautiful. It usually blooms in the spring, but this year I was rewarded with sporadic blooms most of the summer.


I was given a snail vine by one of my fellow master gardeners. Since I wasn't happy with the cyclone fencing that bordered my yard, I thought it would make a great support for my vine. It bloomed all summer with lavender blooms that do resemble snails. It is a wonderful vine, and I am told it will die back in the cold, but return in the spring. I sincerely hope so.


No landscape with vines would be complete without a coral vine. I know this vine is very commonplace, but I just love the lacy look of the blooms. I have to watch this vine as it re-seeds quickly and can overtake the area in which it is planted. However, it is worth the extra work to have it.


I also have a lovely trumpet vine. As its name implies, the blooms are trumpet-shaped. This vine blooms most of the year for me. The blooms are in a range from lightest apricot to a bright orange.


The cross vine is another jewel-toned bloomer. The blooms are almost like a black-eyed Susan, with bright yellow petals and dark centers. The vine also dies back, but returns with warm weather.


I also have a few vines that must be planted from seed each year. The pea vine has a bloom that is vivid blue and looks a lot like a sweet pea. It re-seeds very readily, but rarely in the place of your choice. It is a light vine and can be easily put into a hanging basket.


I always have to plant sweet peas. In fact, they can be planted through December. The newer varieties come in many bright colors, and there are some that are fragrant. Sweet peas make wonderful cut flowers and are always a must for my garden.


Moonflower vines are another must for my garden. They are very easy to start from seed and reward you all summer with their big bright white blooms. They bloom at night, and if the day is cloudy, they will stay in bloom most of the day. This is a beautiful addition to any landscape.


Passion vines are another wonderful plant. The purple bloom is very fragrant and is a really good plant to have if you want something different. I love the unusual bloom. The red passion is a more simple bloom and is not fragrant. They are both well worth planting.


I love to plant luffa vines. The blooms sort of look like cucumber flowers, but then, they start to form this huge "thing" that looks like a cucumber. If you let the luffa dry, you can actually peel it and use it for a brush for bathing. This is planted in the spring from seed and is a fast growing, interesting vine.


There are many vines for our area, and I have only told you about the ones I have in my own garden. It is well worth trying a few.


Various vines can also be used for a nice groundcover. One in particular that comes to mind is the sweet potato vine. It comes in the lovely chartreuse, variegated pink-white and green, and also in the dark purple. I haven't tried these on a trellis but plan to next year.


I continue to be enchanted with the charm that vines bring to my garden. Try planting them this coming year - and with the proper care and support, they will take off and provide a whole different feel for your landscape.