Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cage Free

Finally, a very warm day yesterday, in the 80s and summery. Too hot even!

This climbing hydrangea has been freed from its cage. It is now standing on its own. It took nine years.

In 2006 we put up a pergola over the garage doors, and I used a gift certificate from my retirement party to buy a nice Hydrangea anomala petiolaris.

When I first planted it there was nothing for it to climb on. It uses root hairs to attach to structures, like poison ivy does, actually.

I wanted it to grow up to the pergola and stretch across it, but there was a big gap between the little plant at ground level and the pergola way up over the garage doors. So I gave it a structure to hold onto while it gained some height. The poor thing has lived inside a cedar pyramid since 2006.

By 2010 it had outgrown the pyramid and was confused about what direction I wanted it to go in. So I hung a small panel of lattice from the pergola, and tied the uppermost branches to it and encouraged the vines to attach to the lattice and go up. Upward! You can do it!

By 2013 I was so excited that it had reached the pergola and seemed ready to crawl across it. I took down the lattice panel but left the pyramid for support below.

Now, finally in 2015 it was time to set this plant free.

Last weekend I took out the cedar pyramid, which meant chopping it out in one foot lengths using my loppers, since the hydrangea had engulfed it and could not be separated from the laths very easily.

But I got it free, and now this beautiful vine, with peeling bark and lovely foliage is on its own.

The middle section is twisting  and architectural and cool looking. The bottom third is still box shaped and congested from its former life inside a squared cage. The top is just wild and excited about getting across that pergola.

I'm going to prune the lower third so the stems show more. And since I took these pictures a few days ago I have pruned the top third so it goes horizontally across the pergola and not so much up and out in wild abandon. That was ladder work.

I never thought this would be a nine year project, but it was. And I never thought the pyramid to pergola leap would really happen, but it has.

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