When many people think of vines in the garden, they think of unwelcome ones like poison ivy or the aggressive, non-native Wisteria that requires constant maintenance. But there are many vines that add vertical interest, provide seasonal color, offer privacy screening and need little maintenance. You can grown vines on arbors or other physical structures, but you can also grown them on non-conventional ‘structures’ such as shrubs.
I like to train vines up ornamental plants that have a more open habit. My Kalmia ‘Carol’ has lovely blooms which are enhanced by the addition of a Clematis vine that fills in bare spots and complements the flower color. Clematis ‘Roguchi’ winds its way along the branches of my Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia). Consider growing two different vines on the same structure such as a spring blooming Clematis paired with a fall/winter blooming Aster for a multi-season show.
Most arborists would disagree with my use of large trees as vine supports, but I can’t help myself. There is nothing like the stunning view of a self-adhering vine growing on a large tree. A couple of my favorites include Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’ (Chinese Hydrangea) and Hydrangea petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea). In addition to a stunning flower display, the yellow fall color makes an impressive statement. You can also grow these vines on the side of a building like your home or storage shed.
If you need privacy or want to disguise an unattractive fence, try using a weaver like Bignonia. Bignonia is semi-evergreen in my garden. I’m using is on a deer fence to block the view of my neighbor’s compost pile. Just be sure your structure can support the vine you are using. The last thing you want is for the vine to cause damage or additional maintenance.
If you have a twiner but nothing for it to wrap around, consider adding fishing line, which is nearly invisible, but still strong enough to support certain vines, like Clematis. I use this method on my light post with great success.
Now that I’ve shared some ideas on how to use vines on different supporting structures, I’d love to hear from you. Let me know some of your favorite climbers and how you use them in your garden.