Thursday, June 23, 2016

Climbing Vines

Let's go over the climbing vines in my garden this year.

We'll start with one that is doing quite well -- Clematis 'Samaritan Jo'. I got it last year, but never planted it. It has stayed in a pot, actually in two different containers, since I moved it a couple times, but it has tolerated being repotted pretty well.

It's by the gravel garden now. It's a very delicate clematis that will not outgrow the tower it's on. It wants a little shade, which it gets all morning, but it does fry out here in the afternoon sun. But it seems to be fine with that.
Flowers are pale lavender-tinged in low light, and silver in high sun. Because this is a shy climbing vine, it is best seen close up as I walk past the gravel area or sit in the red chairs.

There is nothing delicate about the bright purple 'Jackmanii Superba' clematis that I moved last year. It is huge, floriferous, and leafy. So big that it quickly outgrew the 5 foot iron tower I had it on. So I cut it back last summer, dug it up, and not knowing where to put it, I just rested the rootball in a depression against one of the river birches on the berm.

There it stayed all winter. And this spring it leafed out and grew tall, even in its inhospitable resting spot. It wanted to climb the river birch trunk, but could get no purchase. When it reached seven feet tall and was flopping all about, I moved it.

When I say I moved it, I simply grabbed a handful of the long vines and dragged it, rootball and all, bumping it along the ground like Christopher Robin dragging Winnie the Pooh down the stairs.

Then I stuffed the mess into this tower by the deck. The tower is no taller than the old one it had been on, but the idea is to have the long vines reach the top and crawl over to the deck railing and stretch out there.

Amazingly the brutal bumping and dragging did not kill this clematis. It is not as big now as it was in its original spot, but it is green, leafy, and blooming and I expect that it will live on and become its glorious huge shape next year. We'll see if I can get it to reach over to the deck railing then.

The deck railing is also where the Sweet Autumn clematis will grow, with the two vines twining together, or so I envision. 'Jackmanii' will be done blooming well before the Clematis terniflora blooms, but the idea is to have their full foliage mingle together.

This is Sweet Autumn clematis on the old deck railing, before it was replaced this spring with the new deck:

I thought I lost this vine in the construction of the new deck. It got run over, compacted by the backhoe, and never came up this spring. So I put the compost number over the spot where it had been,

But it sprouted, and was trying to grow. It was completely shaded by the compost tumbler before I realized it was there and moved the tumbler. Now the vine is just a few inches high at the start of summer. It may not grow enough this season to reach the deck railing and maybe it won't bloom. It has all summer to do something, so we'll see.

Like the 'Jackmanii' purple clematis, this year may see limited growth, but the roots are alive. I'll be interested next year to see how these two vines coexist, both scrambling over the deck railing.

But what has happened with this vine -- what is going on with my 'Kintzley's Ghost' honeysuckle?

It never flowered at all this year, and there are no silvery round bracts that give it a eucalyptus-like ghostly white look. The flowers are usually funny, bight yellow blooms that open in May, followed by the papery bracts. But there was not a bloom in sight this year.

This vine is simply green foliage. At the very top it is curling and stunted, but I think that might be aphids -- I need to check and see what's causing that. The rest of this Lonicera reticulata looks fine.

But no flowers or bracts. It can't be frost damage; the vines were cut all the way back in winter and hadn't even emerged when we had a sharp cold spell in April.

The plumbago vine is another that is not doing much. I babied it all winter inside the house, and it grew tall and dark green in a corner of the dining room, even starting to put out some pretty blue blooms in March.

I repotted it and put it outside once the temperatures got warm.

But the re-potting destroyed the brittle stems, and it had to be cut all the way back, losing those pretty blue flowers. Now, outside, it still isn't warm enough for this tropical Plumbago auriculata to do much yet. I'll have to be really patient with this one.

Clematis 'Niobe' is another disappointment. It's a big clematis that has showy red flowers, but mine is mis-planted, not red, and won't climb. I had to use my camera's flash to even get a shot of it hulking deep under a pine tree.

It's under the pine tree because I had seen clematis vines scrambling up conifers at the Philadelphia Flower Show years ago. Gorgeously colored flowers decorated the deep green pine boughs all up and down the length of the trees like Christmas garlands. That's what I tried to do here.

But it hasn't worked at all. First, it's too dry under the pine. Second, the clematis tendrils won't grab on to the pine boughs, even if I clip them on. The whole plant just bunches up in a pile in a dark corner under the tree.  I ended up using a bamboo tripod for a little encouragement but that doesn't do much.

And, to add insult to my misbegotten plan, the flowers aren't red. They are dark magenta. I think this clematis wants to be moved. But where?

Clematis viticella 'Alba Luxurians' is my one reliable, easy, flowery, no-fuss climbing vine, and it is an old friend by the patio wall, completely obscuring the iron pyramid it is on.

It has small, downward facing handkerchief flowers, nothing big or fancy, but always profuse and pretty. I'll cut it down after flowering in early August, and it will regrow and rebloom (in some years) by late September.

And finally, Clematis 'Henryi' seems to have recovered from its bout with clematis wilt a couple years ago. It's still not a very vigorous vine. It's small and spindly, with only a few blooms, but they are lovely against the brick garage wall.


So, to recap, the different clematis vines I have are a very mixed result this year, the non-blooming ghost honeysuckle is a mystery, and the plumbago is still too cold to be happy.

That's all the vines I have, if you don't count annuals -- a  trailing nasturtium that I am trying to get to climb up a small pyramid, and a black eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia) that is small and pretty.

And, of course, I have a big woody climbing hydrangea that is now racing across the pergola over the garage doors. I'll do a separate post on that at some point this summer. It's doing really well.

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