Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garden Whimsy: Climbers

Clematis, Morning Glories,  Trumpet Vine. They all need something to grab onto to pull themselves up, up, up to the sky. I've tried various things, most of them unconventional, some of them natural, others whimsical. We have an old wooden swing set, under which the platform from an old tree house fit perfectly. My husband is a saint with just enough faith in me that things will turn out to make our backyard fun and interesting.

The old swing set is sturdy but no longer has the single, high flying swings our kids enjoyed. We changed those out for a bench swing that fits two or three comfortably with an extra hook for a hanging plant. The platform keeps feet out of the grass or dirt and eliminates the need to replace wood chips underneath. There's no longer any risk of falling as this swing isn't going anywhere at any great speed.
 To create an instant vine covered look I had my son go into the woods behind our house and cut down one of the wild grape vines. They climb the ash, hawthorn and elm trees and eventually kill the trees by shading them out when they cover the crowns. I wound it over and around the frame as best I could. It not only gives the vine covered look but also gives plants something to climb on.

The clematis climbs one leg and reaches over to the old dead vine. It blooms early in that classic deep purple the Jackmanii is known so well for.

The morning glories climb the other leg of the same side and bloom mid-summer. The vines grow quickly since it is an annual and self seeds each year. It has a strong winding habit so it appreciates something to hold on to like long sticks to start it upward.
The other end of the swing set is for the Trumpet vine with its late summer orange trumpet-like blossoms which the hummingbirds love. It does more leaning than winding or vining but grows quickly as a shrub from previous years growth.

On the other end of the yard I have a clothes line in the middle of the garden which makes a great place for clematis and morning glories to climb. I like this combination and use it in a number of places because as the clematis is finishing it blooming the morning glories are just beginning theirs. I'm careful to protect the bases of the plants with chicken wire since it wouldn't take much for a bunny or deer to bite through the stem and kill the whole vine. The deer munch on a few leaves in the middle section and occasionally break a stem but that's not the end of the world.
Once again the vines need something to hold onto. On the clothes line I've had some fun with black metal household items like a decorative basket or bowl base, a vine shaped candle holder and even a scroll-y plate holder.
The black painted metal will eventually rust which I'm fine with. Eventually each summer the metal becomes totally covered with vines and flowers but until then they are similar in theme and color and look interesting on their own.

I also have a rake from an historic home in the area. It is old and rusted and unusable except as decoration or... vine stake! The morning glories are loving this new place to climb.

When there is an empty hole in an area of the garden such as when something has died or been removed a great filler is a nice spreading dead branch and yes, some more morning glories. They self seed so readily and are easily transplanted. They'll grow up the branches and cover them with leaves and flowers.

I can't wait to find something to start climbing my new fence!

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