Monday, December 12, 2011

Vines are...divine!

Blue sky vine beautifies a chain link fence
Simply Living
December 12, 2011

I love vines.

I love their tenacity and reckless abandon. I love the way they march onward and upward despite minimal care and attention.

I find their variations in fragrance, color and delicate beauty appealing. I see vines growing in wild places or in other people's yards, and I want them. They captivate and entice me.

Fortunately, I'm learning to resist.

Vines have a way of taking over. It's in their nature. If you are prepared and willing to put the time and effort into reining them in, then cultivating vines is a worthy occupation. They can look lovely crawling over an arbor, trellis or pergola, and they work well at hiding an unattractive wall or object. Vines add beauty to a hanging basket and do a good job as a ground cover. However, if you are unable to regularly monitor and control their growth, a pretty little vine can turn into a pretty big problem.

I've made the mistake of planting vines and watching them grow out of control on numerous occasions. I've done it with wild morning glory, purple and white wisteria, passionflower, cypress vine and Dutchman's pipevine. In each case, what started as a snip — a tiny cutting gleaned from a larger plant — turned into a rambling monster over the course of a summer.

Part of the problem is that vines know no bounds. When you plant a broccoli seedling or an impatiens plant, it grows bigger and broader but never wanders. It stays put — a concept that doesn't mesh with the word "vine."

A vine's essence is to grow up, stretch out, sprawl sideways. It does whatever it can to extend its range as far away from the initial root as possible. Some vines do their climbing with help from tendrils, while others twine or use aerial rootlets. Whatever the method, the result is expansive growth far beyond where the plant was originally established.

Pruning is necessary to keep vines in check.

When it comes to vines, I also require a certain amount of restraint. I need to prune back my predilection to cultivate more vines than I have time or energy to control.

Recently, I've found myself coveting a blue sky vine that grows along the entry fence to a home on one of the back roads I frequent. Every time I drive by, I feel a yearning. I want that vine! Its flowers are such a beautiful shade of blue. It looks so pretty along the fence.

If I stopped and asked, I'm sure the homeowners wouldn't object to my taking a clipping, snipping off a little segment to plant at my own home. But if I got a clipping, what then? Once it was rooted, where would I place it? Would it grow out of control as so many other vines have done? Would it become a problem?

It probably would.

Before I add any new vines to the landscape, I need a plan, a place for them to grow and a means to control them when — not if — they start to grow out of bounds.

I have a solution, at least in my mind.

I envision a series of arbors in a long row. The arbors would form a tunnel that I could walk through and on each one, a different vine would climb and twine. The arbors would be separate so that the plants couldn't intermingle. Mowing the ground between them would keep them contained.

I love vines but I'm trying hard to resist the urge to add more to the landscape. Someday I might get a snip of that lovely blue sky vine but I've promised myself it won't be until all the necessary infrastructure is in place and I have the time and inclination to keep the vine in check.

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