Such a beautiful sight, a vine growing happily on a trellis or fence, or on the side of an old house. Vines give us food and drink, colour and shelter; they enhance the landscape of the home in a multitude of ways, whether it is a prolific rambling rose or a demure clematis daintily poking through an arbour. Some are ancient, such as grape vines, and are found throughout the Bible and Greek mythology. Children’s fables are full of them — remember Jack and that beanstalk, or the opening line of the Madeline books, In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. They can invoke a sense of mystery and atmosphere — who hasn’t seen a scary movie where the house was shrouded in vines? As far as books and movies are concerned, the humble vine can play a starring role. All photos by Jennifer Tibbit.
On that note, if you want to cover-up an unsightly chain-link fence or a home project gone wrong, vines are your go-to workhorses, particularly the following types of VISUAL VINES.
Grows up to 30 feet. Great for privacy along a fence. Silverlace yields lovely “lacy” white blooms.
Up a wall or pergola will work for this clinging vine. Beautiful year-round with glossy, heart-shaped leaves. Not for the faint of heart, climbing hydrangea, as it can cover the side of a house.
The Queen of vines, Wisteria is indeed regal. It needs very strong support and takes a few years to bloom. Can be high maintenance but if you’re looking for a challenge and have the space, go for it as the reward is great.
Comes in a multitude of colours and sizes, from 6 – 20 feet in length. There are wonderful varieties of climbing rose: some bloom twice a year, others are thornless. They will grace your old garage for years to come.
A native to these parts, which translates into easy and fast growing; so, Virginia Creeper will grow pretty much anywhere. Prized for its red fall colour.
There are numerous attractive options with SMALLER-SPACE VINES. Many can be planted in containers, and need only a railing or vertical space on which to climb.
My number-one, all-time favourite smallish vine, Hall’s honeysuckle is hardy and rewarding, grows 6 – 12 feet in length, blooms yellow and white, and provides an intoxicating scent (especially at dusk). This one will bloom for quite a few weeks. Plant it near a kitchen window, and your family will want to do the washing up — it smells that good.
Varieties of clematis are seemingly endless. They can grow virtually anywhere: in shrubs, along fences, on the ground. Never too pushy or invasive — just a valuable friend to the garden. Many varieties are suitable for containers.
Honeysuckle and pink clematis.
I would be remiss not to include a few ANNUAL VINES.
Who doesn’t love them?
Exuberant self-seeders; great fillers for those lonely spaces in the garden.
A beauty whose big, glowing flowers open in the evening to release their perfume.
Finally, some DOUBLE-DUTY VINES — those that provide food. Here is a partial list.
Scarlet runner beans
Grows anywhere; beans can be dried for later eating; kids are happy to watch them grow bigger by the hour.
Kentucky pole beans (and peas, cucumbers, and so on)
Look for unusual and fun heirloom varieties.
I must close with the grape vine. A favourite for thousands of years, it grows vigorously and its final product has made many people happy for generations. What’s not to like?