Perennial Vines and Perennial Garden Design



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Perennial Vines and Perennial Garden Design

Who hasn?t been bewitched by the sight of a perennial plant crawling up the walls and trailing along the eaves of an old house? Perennial vines bring romance, charm, and a hint of mystery to their surroundings.


One version of the folk song, ?Barbara Allen? gives an apt description of perennial vines:

?From her grave there grew a rose,
From his there grew a briar,
They climbed and climbed up the church tower,
?til they could climb no higher??

Flowers of perennial vines and even foliage perennials add vertical beauty to any perennial garden design, but can be deadly to both gardens and host structures if left unattended or established in an inappropriate location. Frequently used to provide shade, perennial vines often block necessary sunlight from other annuals and perennial plants. Moreover, the invasive natures of many perennial vines can overtake an entire garden or damage a host structure.

All vines need some kind of support to achieve vertical growth. Besides twining around other plants, perennial vines grow by attaching themselves with tendrils, adhesive disks and aerial roots. The method of attachment dictates what type of support is best suited to the perennial vine.

Twining vines grow by winding their stems around any available support and transform unsightly poles and other vertical eyesores into appealing focal points. One vigorous perennial vine, the Dutchman?s Pipe, could have been named for its twining tendencies but actually, the name refers to its small Meerschaum pipe-shaped flowers that are often hidden by the vine?s large leaves.

Grapevines provide shade and privacy in addition to their tasty fruits. A wooden arbor is a natural choice for grapevines and other perennial plants that grow slender, finger-like tendrils to grab the support they need. However, wire and iron trellises are also good structures for tendril producing perennial vines.

Clinging vines attach themselves to any rough surface with either adhesive disks or aerial roots. Take special care when locating vines like Boston Ivy, which grows adhesive disks and English Ivy, which attaches through aerial root growth. Adhesive disks attach firmly enough to pull off paint or loose mortar when removed. Aerial roots have a tendency to hold moisture, which can damage both wood and mortar. Stone or brick walls are good locations for clinging vines and they also quickly change a rock pile into a perennial rock garden.


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