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Badal to retire in February

Vines add a new dimension to the garden

Blue moon wisteria is blooming from an arbor in a Jamestown garden, creating elegance and grace. John Zvirovski / The Sun

The garden is full of plants that grow at various rates. Some things are quite slow and test our patience, others have a quicker growth but still take some time. Then there are those that pop out of the ground and take off running. One of these items happen to be the vine.

Vines have their own unique characteristics that most other plants do not contain. Many do not have strong stems and rely on the supports they cling to in order to remain upright. Some wrap themselves around poles, stems and through trellises while others have tendrils, fine hairs and small suction cups that grow from their stems to attach to hard surfaces. Some have such a grip by the end of the season that they prove difficult to remove.

Many people tend to shy away from vines due to the space that some of them consume or just due to the fact that they may reach lofty heights, but vines come in many sizes. Vines can also be trained to climb in the areas that you allow, which makes them a little easier to accommodate.

If you are looking to try some vines in the garden, start with some annual selections, and then if you like their placement, you can trade them out later for some perennial types. One of the most common annual vines is the morning glory. It merges from seed within about a week sown directly in warm soils. It will develop slowly for about two weeks, and then it will take off twisting and turning its way up anything it can wrap itself around. Within about eight weeks it will develop flower buds and bloom in the early morning hours in beautiful shades of blue, purple, white, pink and red. A similar vine to the morning glory is the moon flower. This grows in the same manner but blooms at night in with flowers of white that have a nice strong scent.

Some other nice annual vines are the cardinal flower and cypress vine. Though similar in character they have a slight difference in their foliage as one has deeply dissected leaves, and the other one has ferny leaves. They both get beautiful, star-shaped flowers that bloom — mostly in shades of red, but some in pink and white also — in late summer.

If you are looking for vines that create clusters of flowers, try the purple hyacinth bean or the scarlet runner bean. Both are very fast growers from the minute they emerge from the ground and can grow up to 8 inches a day once the heat arrives. They can both fill a trellis quickly and begin blooming by mid-summer until late fall. The Hyacinth bean blooms in lavender and has a wonderful scent and the scarlet runner bean produces clusters of crimson red. Both are definite standouts in the garden setting whether in the ground or grown in containers.

Sweet peas remain to be an old favorite, only reaching heights of 6 to 8 feet. They tend to enjoy cooler weather so many dry up in the heat of summer unless they are shaded from the heat of the afternoon sun. Their clusters of large pea flowers have a heavenly scent and bloom in nearly every color of the rainbow.

Some other vines you might want to try are the black-eyed Susan, the Spanish flag and the cup and saucer vine.

If you are looking for a perennial vine, of course, the most popular is the Clematis. Blooming in shades of purple, lavender, red, pink, white and even yellow, these vines win the hearts of many. Jackmanii is the most common in our area with its rich, deep purple blooms.

Honeysuckle vines grow fairly quickly also with blooms of orange, red, pink, yellow and white. Their heavy fragrance attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and people alike with their clusters of flowers.

Many people do not know that you can grow wisteria in the area. There are two northern varieties that seem to do well. Blue moon is one that is supposed to set flowers two to three times during the season and aunt Dee, which blooms in the spring. Their hanging clusters of lavender to blue flowers are stunning from any arbor in the garden.

If you are just looking for vines that produce a dense cover of foliage try the golden hops vines or the Virginia creeper, which turns a brilliant, red shade in the fall season. Both are great for creating living fences and will quickly cover a chain-link fence in a matter of a few years.

Grapes are another great vine to cover fences and there are many that will produce fruit in our northern climate. Try one of the many varieties in the garden such as beta, Swenson red, valiant or Frontenac to name a few. They make great jellies and wine.

For autumn color, the bittersweet is an old time favorite that can climb 15 to 20 feet tall. In the wild they climb in trees, but in the garden you can train them to climb poles with a little chicken wire wrapped around them. However, this vine does require a male and a female plant in order to produce its brilliant orange fruit in the fall.

It’s not too late to give a vine a try for many different landscape effects this season. There are many selections to choose from and many create beautiful blooms throughout the growing season. Enjoy the holiday weekend!