Climbers, and particularly
ornamental vines, are often useful in softening sharp lines of buildings,
decorate fences, and other structures that are not very pretty, and look
way better if hidden. They can provide shade as a cover on an arbor
or gazebo. Some species are also useful as ground covers on steep slopes
and terraces. I find them a lovely frame for just about any garden design
theme. And quite romantic. Most can also be used as the "spiller" in
large container or planter arrangements, and fall beautifully from window boxes.
They also cover multitudes of landscaping sins.
Among the many ornamental perennial climbers for the garden
ivy, trumpet vines, clematis, Honeysuckle, wisteria, climbing roses. ornamental gourds,
can provide rapid coverage and take up less space with trellises guiding their
growth. Fruit and vegetable vines are good candidates in creating a Vertical
Food Garden in small spaces.
To begin..... I love vines. I
admit that I have a deeply-held prejudice against a very lovely vine that has
been a scourge for me.... Virginia Creeper. I didn't plant it. Someone
planted it here before I arrived, and allowed it climb up the side of the house.
The red leaves are glorious in the fall. But here, in Zone 6, left unattended,
it is an invasive nuisance, especially when left to climb wildly in the
landscape. It was almost impossible to remove without hiring someone to yank
every sign of it off the house every summer. It was a huge chore, because of the
minimum amount of space between houses, and the need for ladders.
Cutting just encouraged it
further. I had to resort to a one-time chemical permanent removal (I'm really
sorry), when it started to wind around the cable wires and electricity wiring,
over the meters, and rampage across overhead wires, that also serviced my
neighbors' homes. The siding on my home was damaged by stains and loosened by
the roots, yanking and hacking. It seems to grab onto a structure with very
strong hooks. I finally rid myself of it, and would never grow it on
Having said that, if you have
the room and location to grow it, or can keep it containerized, pruned
fastidiously and controlled, it is a beautiful vine when used responsibly in the
landscape. I'm sure it would be stunning in pots, and trained to grow on
trellises or an arbor. Mine was just a straggling invader, covering everything
in sight, without the intense, colorful ornamental attributes of well-behaved
specimens. The leaves are a vivid red that looks beautiful with any accents of
green. It is a great problem-solver for quickly covering ugly, immovable
structures, broken fences or unmanageable slopes, and I'd be remiss if I didn't
mention that vine. But don't ever leave it to its own devices.
Below is a photo of one of my
favorite varieties of Clematis. It is planted in railing planters on my porch,
and scrambles up the porch supports and trellises. Long-blooming and prolific.
Hardy perennial in zones 4-11. Every stage of growth is beautiful and