Landscape Problem Solvers - Vines

By Thomas Fryd

From a kerchief-sized city back yard to the rolling hills of a magnificent country estate, there is hardly a garden or landscape where vines can't be used to give the scene graceful beauty and vitality. And few other plants serve so many practical purposes as well.

Vines have character and individuality. Some are modest, and attract attention to the patterned texture of a wall rather than to themselves. Some are bold and brilliant, and command the eye. All give a fluid impression of movement no other plant form provides.

Vines are adaptable, versatile, can be trained to almost any shape or line, formal or informal, horizontal or vertical, sweeping or restrained. A controllable line is one of the landscape architect's most potent tools.

And vines have variety in size, shape, color, contour, texture. There are fast- and slow-growing, deciduous and evergreen, annual and perennial vines. Some feature foliage, flowers, or colorful fall and winter fruit; some paragons provide all three.

Practically speaking, vines can do more for a garden, yet require less space and less care, than most people realize. They are generally strong-rooted, prefer not to be pampered, are subject to relatively few diseases. They occupy a small area, yet their tops are arranged to get full benefit of all available light and sunlight.

Name your landscaping problem, there is surely a vine to help solve it. Limited space for flower beds? A clematis or climbing rose will give tremendous flowering display for small root space. Train one, or both together, on a pillar for dramatic accent. Your garden doesn't hang together? Use vines to make a smooth transition from one area or level to another, to help create harmony and unity.

House looks too high? A vine or a flowering vine will pull it down, anchor it to the ground. House too low and broad? A vertical vine will make it look higher. House plain, lacks style? Vines break and soften sharp lines, create ornamental patterns. House too ornate? Vines hide or correct errors and abuses.

When the bulldozer leaves bare grounds, vines make shade faster than trees, flower faster than herbaceous perennials. Where there's a clutter of small, unrelated buildings, vines will tie them together. When you want privacy for an outdoor living area, vines make a screen without eliminating light. - 29857

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