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A delicate curtain of blue trumpets is gracefully draping the pine tree, vines hanging loosely from the branches, double looping around themselves, weaving in both directions to create a blue and green fall coat for an evergreen tree. Read more…

morning glories

On 08, Sep 2011 | No Comments | In vines | By All Year Garden

Just when I was wondering why the morning glories stopped blooming I realized they moved up to the tree canopy. I guess sharing trellis space with the cucumbers, sweet peas, and squash was too much for them Read more…

‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory

On 31, Mar 2011 | No Comments | In vines | By All Year Garden

When I was planning to write an entry about morning glory it didn’t occur to me that it might involve the month of March and the  indoors. But there it is with photos to prove it. I started two small flower planters with the rest of the seedlings. They are light enough to carry outside when the weather warms up for good (I’m looking outside at the snow and wondering quietly to myself when that is going to happen!) so nothing needs transplanting. This will significantly reduce the stress on the new plants, especially those that don’t much appreciate being moved, like sweet peas, nasturtiums and featured above. I didn’t think it would actually bloom!

I don’t know that morning glory can be thought of as a houseplant, but just in case anybody was wondering, it does bloom indoors.


On 30, Oct 2010 | No Comments | In vines | By All Year Garden

Looking for a good addition to your rock garden or dry sunny spot?  The winecups (or purple poppy mallow) are a less common yet very attractive plant, hardy to zones 4 through 8.

Native to the southwestern and western states, this low spreading vine grows in dry prairies, along roadsides and in open fields. It is not a plant you see very often in the mid-western and northern states, although it is not prone to disease, requires little care and does very well in drought conditions. The flowers are very pretty, as you can see, spreading daintily on long stems with fringed leaves. Once established, the clump will grow and spread, but transplant is difficult because of the plant’s tap root.

It is a wonderful perennial plant, combining beautiful flowers, interesting foliage, a low growth perfect for the front of the border (it grows only 6 to 12 inches tall), great resistance to drought, and repeat bloom. The downside, rodents think that the foliage and the roots taste great!

Winecups look delicate and fragile, but don’t forget this plant grows wild in the dry southwestern plains, it will do well without lots of pampering. It self-sows freely, so deadhead if you don’t want additional plants. You can also propagate it by taking cuttings.

clematis jackmanii

On 06, Aug 2010 | One Comment | In shade, vines | By All Year Garden

Clematis plants love full sun but some of them (like the one in the picture) tolerate light shade or more precisely indirect bright sunlight.

This purple beauty adorns a trellis and it’s still very young (2 years old), so it just started to develop. Right now it is a gangly green string with timid branches hanging tight for support. It looks so fragile! The flowers have already gone to seed. I’m looking forward to many happy returns in the years to follow.

Clematis like their roots moist and cool, and will reach four feet deep for water when fully mature. Until then make sure to mulch them properly and not give them a lot of competition for food and water by planting tons of annuals close by.

This plant is a heavy feeder and needs abundant fertilizing to flourish; some people say it is  susceptible to disease. I didn’t personally experience troubles with that, but as I said, it is very young. One thing I did experience though is that it doesn’t seem to like being touched: I tried to weave it gently around a support and every shoot I touched died. It grew new ones with springy tendrils and climbed up quickly afterwards. I haven’t touched it since. I just water it, feed it and photograph it from a distance.

Under favorable conditions, clematis will provide abundant color in mid to late summer. The strange clematis seed, a bundle of hairy twirly filaments, creates winter interest.

If you manage to acclimate this beautiful plant to an area of your garden that receives less sunlight, you got yourself a reliable bloomer and we all know how valuable that is in the shade garden: not many plants can do it. Especially in the dead of summer, when all the early bloomer’s enthusiasm tires out.

grapevine in spring

On 14, Jun 2010 | 5 Comments | In vines | By All Year Garden

By botanical definition, the grape is technically a true berry. Surprise!

If you want to create a green outdoor room around a table or a bench, train grapevine on a sturdy arbor or trellis. The grapevine quickly fills up the space and creates welcome shelter from the summer sun. In the spring and summer it looks graceful, with springy, curly tendrils grabbing and twisting around supports.  In the fall, the grape leaves turn coppery-red and translucent bunches of grapes hang within arm’s reach, glowing in the sunlight like amber. The grapes over-ripen to a degree to which the air around them is saturated with an unmistakable honey-like sweetness. For those gastronomically inclined, grape leaves are used for the wrapping of dolmades, a Greek delicacy made of rice, fresh herbs and seasonings.

The little grapevine in the picture was chosen by my daughter, who is a natural green thumb. It is a red table grape that looks healthy and strong and grew significantly since we planted it. She keeps checking it regularly and evaluating its development. This is its second year in our yard and it’s looking good. It started covering the trellis it is growing on. More to follow.

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scarlet runner beans

On 13, Jun 2010 | One Comment | In vines | By All Year Garden

Scarlet Runner Beans are not legumes, they are a piece of history. The red and white variety “Painted Lady” was grown in the kitchen gardens as early as 1750. In the beginning people cultivated them for their highly decorative flowers and seed pods, and only later figured out they were good to eat. The flowers are beautiful enough to compete with the sweet peas. They are not fragrant, but they are gorgeous vibrant shades of red, white and purple. The seed pods turn an intense coppery purple in the fall, and inside you will find beans that range from monochrome to calico combinations of purple, red and white.

The plants don’t like the heat and will put off yielding seeds till later in the season, when the weather turns cooler. For some varieties the bean pods grow up to a foot long. The beautiful flowers attract humming birds.

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