Climbing Vines

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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No matter the landscaping style or garden design, climbing vines are a great asset in any number of environments. On the one hand are traditional arbors and trellises, on the other are concrete walls and chain link fences. In between is your imagination. You might be looking at 250-year-old wisteria enveloping the narrow confines, iron gates, and brick walls of an 18th century town garden. You might be struck dumb by the sight of morning glories covering 300 feet of chain-link fence around a dog kennel in coastal Georgia.

Choosing Climbing Vines for a Garden

Obviously the first considerations will focus on climatic and geographic zone, local soil type, available sunlight, and ground moisture factors. Several flowering and nonflowering vines do well in most locations. Among these are clematis, Boston ivy, jasmine, Mandevilla, climbing roses, and honeysuckle. Other possibilities include sweet peas, climbing hydrangeas, morning glories, hyacinth beans, and trumpet vines.

The most typical supports for climbing vines, of course, are arbors, trellises, pergolas, fences, and walls. Climbers do just as well on trees, tennis court fences, swimming pool enclosures, and the like. They create a sense of privacy as well as gracefully hide man-made structures such as garden sheds and air-conditioning and heating units. Flowering vines are especially effective in blocking summer heat and glare.

The perennial Porcelainberry elegans is well known for its pink blooms in summer and lavender berries in autumn. Two morning glory vines are especially popular. One, Ipomoea purpurea (Grandpa Otts), blooms a rich purple, and the other, I. tricolor (Heavenly blue), attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. The perennial vine climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris, attracts hummingbirds in the spring and early summer, and has large, showy flowers.

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