Tag Archives: rick

Climbing the Walls

Vines and vineyards have a rich storied history. From the Middle East to France and beyond there is evidence of wine production dating back to 4,000 BC and beyond with numerous Biblical references celebrating vines…..talk about “Da-vine” intervention. I use grapevines on fencing in my yard, not for the production of grapes, but rather the aesthetic feel it provides in my landscape. The same can be said for Hops (Humulus lupulus).

Hop to it!

With the interest in craft beers, growing hops not just for production but their ornamental qualities has become popular. Hops are an herbaceous perennial easy to grow. Provide sunlight and plenty of support and by August and September the presentation of foliage and “nuggets” (hops) can be quite spectacular! Hops like a rich, well-drained soil, so till deeply with good organic matter for best results.
The list of vines you could try in your yard is extensive and fun. If you don’t have a lot of yard space going vertical may be just the answer to create an intriguing enjoyable landscape. From Climbing Hydrangeas to Trumpet Vine, Honeysuckle to Wisteria, you may find you have to apply “tough love” and at some point slow their growth to encourage blooming via root pruning. A vine wants to grow and grow sometimes in lieu of producing blooms. In those cases some root pruning or stress will show the vine who is boss and get it to bloom.
Remember vines grow. It is their “nature”. Provide sturdy support structures with a tendency to “overdo it”.
For days of “vine and roses” here are some vines I suggest you try in your landscape to get growing.

The wonder of Wisteria….a showstopper!

• Wisteria. Make sure to have a strong structure for this vine with plenty of room to grow. A Wisteria can swallow a structure or building but planted in the right place the blooms and results are stunning.
• Clematis. The key to Clematis is “cool roots and hot tops”. This blooming vine is notorious for its presence at mailboxes and on lamposts.

The bashfully beautiful Clematis in dappled shade

Mulched at the base with organic matter in the soil in a sunny area the flowers are simply gorgeous.
• Climbing Roses. Heavy feeders that need sunlight and support, if given these three elements a climbing rose can provide floriferous results for years to come.
• Trumpet Vine. This aggressive grower is easy to grow with some even labeling it “invasive”. That said if you have the room to grow, this woody vine produces blooms to attract Hummingbirds to your yard and provides a visual explosion. (note that both Trumpet Vine and Wisteria both may benefit from root pruning see mention earlier)
• Honeysuckle. With sweet yellow to orange and red blossoms this easy growing vine will attract pollinators, butterflies, hummingbirds to your landscape. Prune back hard in fall and the following year watch it grow!
• Climbing Hydrangea. With white lacecap blooms in summer and aerial rootlets this vine is a “clingy” must in the aerial landscape with glossy green foliage.
• Hops Humulus lupulus. An herbaceous perennial that is ornamental in summer and has broad interest due to the craft beer industry.
• Passion Vine Passiflora. For exotic blooms this might be your vine. Not hardy in most areas of Michigan (herbaceous habit surviving in zones 6 or warmer) don’t let it keep you from trying this vine for its intriguing blooms.
• Morning Glory Ipomoea. What’s the story morning glory? Easy to grow from seed in warm weather this vine has adorned many mailbox posts and lampposts in its day. A tender annual its tendrils are fast growing and adept at pirouetting.
• Moonflower. This tender annual vine has unique unfurling white blooms perfect to be used on decks where evening entertaining will take place. With moonflowers as well as Morning glories go easy on the nitrogen fertilizer (which grows more foliage). Supplementing with some high phosphorus will encourage blooming in lieu of foliar growth.

Lettuce be careful out there

I remember as a kid on hot summer days drinking from the garden hose. The water always tasted funny. No doubt as the hose baked in the hot summer sun it gave a distinctive flavor to our refreshment. Today we are warned and studies confirm that water from a garden hose can contain in addition to bacteria some toxic chemicals. I am told lead levels, bromine, phthalates, BPA and other ugly stuff I can’t pronounce can be in your garden hose. I just wet my plants. Better be safe than sorry, don’t let your kids drink from the garden hose. It does explain a lot about me. I’ve considered bottling water with the garden hose taste to sell. There may be other baby bloomers out there like me who might buy it just for nostalgia sake.

I just wet my plants

In addition I was intrigued when I saw a British study about garden injuries and what lands people in the hospital. Garden hoses were on the list and in the top ten. I’m sure as a tripping hazard when left laying around. “Water” you waiting for? Roll up that hose. Of course the top issue was the lawn mower with everything from injuries while servicing to foot injuries while mowing to flying projectiles! It is without surprise the lawn mower tops the list in both the UK and the US. The number 2 item on the British list is quite surprising however. Flower pots were the second listed item causing gardening injuries. I would suspect hand cuts and dropped pots as well as lifting causing back injuries. Don’t let your day “go to pot” with a trip to the ER. Get your neighbor to help.
Pruners, spades, Electric hedge trimmers, shears, and garden forks all obviously made the top ten list. Interestingly the innocent hose and sprinkler made the list of dangerous accident causing objects. I suppose if you set the sprinkler and run it could result in a mishap. A significant amount of injuries however occur when an unintended “trip” is the result of an errant garden hose. It’s far better to take a trip to the beach and put your toes in the water than to end up at the doctor. I would think weed whackers would be on the list. Your “whipper snipper” is prone to kick up some dust and debris so make sure always to be wearing protective eye wear when using them.

The ” altitudinous” Alliums

Photographed Allium christophii today. I love how Alliums confidently stand up in the landscape in June. Certainly not shy they stand out. Deer resistant and showy they take an “altitudinous” position in the garden.

Tight shot on Allium christophii

Standing head and shoulders….well….head above the rest.

Also known as Star of Persia

The Phantasmagoric Peony

Photographed these phantasmagorical peonies today thinking wow….. they “have a fantastic appearance, as something in a dream created by the imagination.” 

A phantasmagoric peony on a June afternoon

“Bee-leaf” it…..I’m not the only one to find them phantasmagoric!

Simply “Plantasmagoric” I say…..

Rosey and Riveting

Women went to work during World War II with the aviation industry seeing the greatest increase in female workers. Fueled by the U.S. government’s “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda campaign 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, making up 65 percent of the workforce! The bandanna-clad Rosie became an iconic image of working women in the World War II era. Flexing her muscles Rosie said “We can do it!”

Things can look “rosie” and “riveting” in your garden today and you can do it! Plant breeding in the past 10 to 20 years has developed landscape roses that are hardy, prolific bloomers with little maintenance. Known as “shrub” roses they are grown on their own root instead of grafted making them versatile and durable.

Miracle on the Hudson Rose named to honor heroic crew and passengers of Flight 1549

Roses are still divas in the landscape requiring a lot of sunlight to bloom at their peak performance. Try to plant in an area that gets at least 8 hours of sunlight during the growing season. They are also heavy feeders so make sure to fertilize with a complete rose fertilizer in spring and summer. The great thing about shrub or own root landscape roses is they tend to keep blooming well into October, sometimes even November.

With the interest in groundcover alternatives to turf remember that these new generation roses also are available as “groundcover” or spreading roses. Varieties like ‘Drift’ roses cover a lot of space with color. Sometimes plants we consider to be vines can instead be allowed without support to spread on the ground in difficult to maintain areas like a sunny slope and effectively fill the space. Air circulation is always important with roses so don’t over crowd them with other plants. I have found some that ornamental grasses are good companions with roses providing a great backdrop for their continuous summer into fall color. Blue is a desirable color in the landscape making the sun loving Nepeta and Lavender a great choice to partner with your roses. Also consider Heliotrope as the sun loving perennial that will show off with the roses at peak bloom time in mid-summer.

When planting those “riveting” landscape roses I recommend against mixing colors. Plant at least three of the same together for impact. Visually it is far more impactful and as with most landscapes odd numbered plantings usually look the most natural.

Today’s landscape roses and ground cover roses don’t require tricky pruning, but regular pruning will keep plants compact. No need to prune these “self cleaning” roses like we pruned the large hybrid tea roses in the past to get them to rebloom. Simply prune as needed to keep size in check a couple times a year. You can prune plants back annually by one-third to one-half to encourage fresh growth.