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Village of AsharokenThe small but powerful Village of Asharoken

May 2010 Gardening Article:  "It's Really Here at Last!"      By Joan G. Hauser

Clematis vines add dramatic color and form to your garden.
Clematis vines add dramatic color and form to your garden.
The world has turned glorious and green again. It’s still a surprise to me every morning when I wake up and step outside. For me, this is a short magnificent time of clarity and freshness, a brief hiatus before the jungle in my garden prevails.

Since I am not a tidy gardener, flowering vines are among my favorites—both perennial and annual. You’ll find that they are stunning on any structure—an arbor, gazebo, pergola, trellis, wall or fence—adding always a touch of decorative camouflage. Take a look around your yard. I’m sure you’ll find a few sites that could be enhanced by adding gaily colored flowering vines.

Some varieties—the non-invasive ones—can be planted to climb up on trees and wind among roses and other bushes. Clematis clings by foliage rather than tendrils or sucker roots so it won’t harm its hosts, although the hardiest kind, such as Sweet Autumn (C. ternifolia) can be suffocating through sheer volume. Clematis, which includes more than 150 species, can range from the simplest—Clematis alpina with smallish flowers in white pink, or blue—to the most dramatic, such as Clematis florida Sieboldi in dark purple and ivory. Most prefer full sun and a low ground cover to protect the roots. Those that bloom on current season’s wood can be pruned ruthlessly in the late winter or early spring and those that grow on one-year-old wood may be pruned sparingly soon after flowering.

A few perennial vines I’ve had grown are: silver lace vine (Polygonum aubertii) which is charming with its lacy white flowers but can become invasive; Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) with huge white flowers; and honeysuckle (Lonicera) which comes in many varieties and colors but can also become invasive.
The saucer-sized nighttime blooms of the Moonflower can be spectacular.
The saucer-sized nighttime blooms of the Moonflower can be spectacular.
Trumpet vine (Campsis) is unruly most of the time but stunning in bloom. Wisteria is also magnificent in bloom while overwhelming the rest of the time.

There are marvelous annual vines which can be brought outside this month if you’ve been clever enough to start them in pots or sowed outdoors as soon as possible. Some are: brilliantly bright morning glories (Ipomea) as well as the Moon flower, in the same family, with its large, luminous night-blooming flower; sweet peas, (which can also be perennial); love-in-a-puff (Cardiospermum halicacabum) with charming fall-blooming green puff balls; black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia Alata); scarlet runner beans, and hyacinth beans (Dolichios lablab) a favorite of Thomas Jefferson’s with dramatic wisteria-like purple flowers; passion flowers (Passiflora) which can also be perennial if you’re really lucky and it’s a mild winter.

There are many exotic vines that can be purchased through catalogues as plants or seeds. In addition to the catalogs you receive in the mail, check out the following: Summer Hill Seeds for seeds, Clematis Specialty Nursery for clematis, and Brushwood Nursery for a wide selection of ornamental vines.

1. Make second and third sowings of beets, carrots, peas, radishes, spinach, lettuce and onions.
2. Sow seeds of lima and green beans, corn, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, and squash.
3. Plant dahlias, cannas, and daylilies now through the end of the month.
4. Plant gladiolus through late June for continuous flowering.
5. Fertilize roses every two to three weeks.
6. Plant summer annuals now.
7. Prune spring flowering shrubs immediately after blooming.
8. Plant tuberous begonias and caladiums outdoors in shady area.
9. Pinch tips of chrysanthemums on each holiday: Memorial Day, Flag Day, and the Fourth of July.