Include vines in your gardens for colourful vertical drama

Vines make wonderful additions to gardens, providing colourful vertical drama to otherwise horizontal landscapes.  They can be used to cover unsightly fences, utility boxes or pipes, storage areas and more.  They make great privacy screens too, shielding your yard from neighbours’ views.  There are many things to consider when choosing a vine for any of these functions…

  • size matters: consider the coverage you need.  Some vines cover a small space, others need lots of room to sprawl
  • invasive:  some vines can be invasive and very hard to remove from places you don’t want them to grow
  • damage:  some vines can cause incredible damage, destroying eavestroughing, fences and even brick!
  • color: some vines change colour in the fall, an added bonus to landscapes.  Others are a bright, chartreuse green contrasting with other green plants in your yard.  Some have flowers, others are grown just for the foliage.
  • pruning/cutting back: some vines require more maintenance than others.  Many die back to the ground when frost hits them making cleanup easy.  Some have to severely cut back in the spring to prevent them from taking over your yard.
  • annual or perennial:  the vines I use are perennial meaning they come back each year on their own.  Included in the perennial category are clematis, ivy, golden hops, hydrangea, bittersweet, honeysuckle and silver lace. There are also many annual varieties available such as morning glories, sweet peas, black-eyed susans and more.
  • Here are a few I have in my gardens…

Choose a few vines to add vertical drama to your landscaping, just do your homework first so you will be pleased with the result.  As always, if you have any questions, please contact me, I would be happy to research the perfect vine for your garden.

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Plants of the week from Gardens4u, take five

These are my favourites for this week…

Traditional perennials: hostas

hostas are great at the front of a border or bed and thrive in deep shade through part sun.  Most hostas prefer shade, but those with yellow leaves or fragrant flowers prefer more sun.  They come in many colours and sizes these days from miniature to huge.  If you do plant the large ones, be sure to give them lots of space as they do not look their best when crowded.

Modern perennials:  geraniums, not the red annual type your grandmother planted, but the perennial variety

Perennial geraniums also look great at the front of borders or beds.  They tolerate shade and part sun.  I love them because they are the first to green up in the spring, offer some colour with the blooms, but look great even when not in bloom.  They come in many colors and sizes.  Some of the larger ones can tend to be floppy, so I stick to the smaller ones.

Shrubs: Black Lace Elderberry

The deep wine colour of Black Lace Elderberries look wonderful mixed with all of the shades of green in your gardens.  They die down to the ground each winter in my area, and are often slow to come back in the spring, but can grow to heights of six feet or more. This spring was so late and the winter so cold, I thought my black lace had died.  Thankfully I decided to give it another week, and sure enough, one week later it was one foot tall!  The pale pink flowers are pretty but I consider them a bonus as they don’t last long.  The dark coloured lacy foliage is the reason I love this shrub.  This season it is a great backdrop for my lily trees featured in the third picture.

Vines:  Silver Lace

Although the Silver Lace vine blooms in the fall and so not blooming this week, I am always suggesting it to my clients.  It is quick growing, covering any structure very fast with white lace like flowers, a beautiful sight in September through November.  Unfortunately I lost mine this past winter due to the severe cold weather we experienced.  It is only hardy to zone 5 which is pushing the envelope for my Ottawa garden.

Annuals: Coleus

Coleus are great for filling in blank spots and contributing splashes of colour in shady spots of your gardens.  I never used to like them, but after seeing them tucked in among perennials in a client’s garden, I’ve changed my mind and added some to my own gardens this year.  Coleus come in many combinations and shades of pink, red and green; all make vibrant additions to a garden or container.

Stay tuned for next week’s choices…