Vines Are of Great Value

By The Old House Web

Vines Are of Great Value

Vines are of great value but often have been neglected because many gardeners failed to realize their potential. Vines lend themselves admirably to vertical structures found in contemporary gardens. Vines can partially cover and blend the structure with other plantings.

Certain vines with coarse foliage or dense habit of growth are useful on fences or arbors. These vines are also used for screening objectionable views, either permanently or temporarily, until other plantings are large enough to achieve the effect desired. They may be used to give shade and privacy to a porch. They will break the monotony of a long fence or stone wall, and they can be trained to form a definite pattern on a blank wall.

They are used in contemporary designs to soften the harsh lines of space dividers or baffles. On steep banks or under shade trees where grass can be grown only with difficulty, certain vines make fine ground covers. In areas where space is very limited and high shrubs would require too much room, they can be used instead of shrubbery to achieve the effect of a narrow space divider or barrier.

Carefully consider the use to which a vine is to be put before making any selection. In some cases, it might be desirable to cover an entire fence with a solid mass of foliage, so you want a vine with dense foliage. To add pattern and interest to a stone wall without entirely covering it, a slower growing type with interesting leaves would be more desirable. A vine with fragrant flowers certainly should be considered for a porch or patio, or near a window that is frequently opened.

Vines are divided into three types according to their method of climbing -- whether by tendrils, twining or clinging. The kind of support to be provided will largely determine the type of vine to be selected. The grape is probably the best known of the vines that climb by means of tendrils. These are slim, flexible shoots -- or, in some cases, leaflike parts that act as tendrils-- that quickly wrap themselves around anything with which they come in contact to support the vine for further growth. The twining vines climb by winding their stems around any available support. These two types are suited to climbing on wires, trellises or arbors. They can be grown on flat surfaces only if proper supports are provided for them.

The climbing vines are better adapted to climbing on even, vertical surfaces. These fall into two types. One, such as the Japanese creeper (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), climbs by means of tendrils with disk-like adhesive tips that attach themselves firmly to any surface -- even glass. The other type, like the English Ivy (Hedera helix), climbs by means of small aerial rootlets, or holdfasts, at intervals along the stems. These dig themselves into the crevices of any rough-textured surface, such as brick, and cling tightly. When allowed to trail on the ground or climb in the joints of a dry-laid stone wall, they will root and form new plants.

Clinging vines are best used on brick or masonry walls. They should never be used on the walls of frame buildings -- their method of climbing might damage the wood of the structure. Also, they cling so closely to the wall that dampness is likely to collect under them and rot the wood. If, however, vines seem desirable in certain cases, the trellis on which they are trained should be far enough from the siding to allow air to circulate freely behind the vine. The trellis should be removable so that it may be laid flat on the ground to permit painting of the siding without damaging the vine.

Supports of some kind are essential in growing vines and must be sturdily constructed of durable materials. It is discouraging to see a beautiful, healthy vine ruined after several years' growth because the structure on which it is trained has collapsed. A little care and thought in building is well worth the time.

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