Category Archives: Great vines

the best fall garden ever…annual vines

this week we get to some of my favorites plants, annual vines.

Annual vines are three things….cheap, easy, and glorious. For leass than the third of the cost of one perennial plant  you can buy a packet of annual vine seeds and grow many fantastic ground or trellis covering vines. That is quite the bargin.

I grow many  and change them up every year (which is  another great thing about them) but will focus on the ones that add the most to my late season garden

The first is by far the  biggest of the bunch, cobea scandens. Planted by seed this baby will get to at least 20 ft by late summer. It has little sticky tendrils that can grab onto anything, they even can climb vinyl siding with zero damage done when they are pulled off. Before i grew this I had read on the interweb  volumes of complaints railed against cobea scandens because it blooms very late if started by seed after frost. Well, you can start it indoors or a greenhouse if you have one, or you can quit your crabbing because…HELLLO! the late bloom is the point of the thing.

Most  years I grew the straight species, and it’s adorable ittle flowers that look like tiny tea cups on saucers, ( hence it’s common name cup and suacer vine) adorn the front of my garage for the better part of August-October. It is divine. This year I have the cltvr.’Alba’ and I am a little less than impressed with the flowers as they don’t stand out as much , although if you are close up they are great. The garage just needs a jolt of color …note for next year. You could actually overwinter this plant if you cut it back and bring it inside as it is a tender perennial not  technically an annual. I have one growing in morning shade/afternoon sun and one growing in  part shade all day into a birch tee.

DSC_0004 (2) DSC_0001 (3) DSC_0005 (3) DSC_0001 (4)

Hyacinth bean is another stunner with it’s lilac to white flowers and electric purple pods. This vine can be seed started directly in the ground after it is warm outside ( here June 1) and the heat will make it soar. I have used it in many places here and find the direct sown plants perform MUCH better than any I start early indoors. the foliage is lovely on this one as well. I must mention though, that is is a full sun plant.

hy2 hy

Morning glories get a bad rap, but with all the new varieties you can find on ebay, as well as the tried and true like Heavenly Blue  and Grandpa Ott, there is no reason not to include them in your garden. I find only the older ones will reseed , any I pay many $$ for a few seeds  never do. Some have nicier foliage than others ( picotee comes to mind) and some are just HUGE. Last year I grew Vega Star and that ting was a monster! With most varieties I would seed at least 4 or 5 vines in a space to get a good display, but this one a single plant will do.DSC_0010

Grandpa Ott

Grandpa Ott

Vega Star

Vega Star

vega star

vega star


Moon Flowers are anothe ipomea species ( related to morning glories) and are easy as pie, and the flowers are as big as one to boot. They are dreamy planted near any place you spend time at night  as they open then , although they also open on cloudy days too,mnfl

Rhodochiton astrosanguineum is an mouthful of a name for a very sweet plant with cool looking bell flowers ( common name: purple bell flower vine) that has the added attribute of liking a shady position. This year I have it growing in three places, all in containers to raise the flowers up to eyeball height.IMG_20160707_100814611


You can read an awful lot about annual vines on my blog, and I encourage you to plant as many as you can. When you think of how late they bloom, remind yourself that

a. they take up very little space in the ground so can be added amoung many other earleir bloomers and

b. late blooming is what we are after here.

How come no one ever complains about how early daffodils bloom????


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plant profile: cobaea scandens

Looking for a great addition to the late season garden? Of course you are! After the absolute explosion of bloom in July and  as we head into August it is nice to still have many things to look forward to garden -wise. I speak often about vines, and especially how  annual vines are just the ticket to a great Fall show, and cobaea scandens or cup and saucer vine is a standout among them

. ( a quick Latin refresher-the word scandens refers to anything that scrambles, so when you see it in a plant name assume you have a climbing or rambling  grower).

Cobae scandens is sometimes dismissed as a  garden plant here in the Northeast because it is a late starter. I will admit, getting it off and running can be tricky. The seeds are flat and tough and can take a few weeks to germinate. If you are starting them indoors from seed, tip the seeds  on their sides to avoid rotting. After germination they will take a while to get growing and need a lot of attention in hardening them off for growing outside,  If you like , you can direct sow the seed , but don’t even dare to do it before the June 1st here in z6 as it will gain you nothing and may loose you everything. The vine hails from Mexico , where it is perennial…and revels in the heat ,so a cool spring can do them in. I prefer to  order green house grown plants to start with , and really ,at less than $10 no matter where you order them from, they will repay you with quicker growth and earlier flowering.than if you started them yourself.

Once growing this vine will quickly cover a trellis , and if you use more than one plant you can cover a pergola or arbor. 20 -25 feet in a season is not unheard of. By the middle of July my vine was well over 10 feet and it has now hit it’s stride. ( the other vines in the photo are a moonflower and a sweet pea that is done blooming)DSC_0006 (2)

The foliage is a gorgeous dark green with purple undersides and stems ,and the many spring-like tendrils enable it to grab on to just about anything. After my vine outgrew the trellis, it had been happily climbing the siding by latching on the any little nook it could. I did, although, move it and gave it some twine to not only guide it to where I want it to grow, but for added support during  all the windy thunderstorms we get here in the summer.DSC_0004

DSC_0005The first flower appeared this week , and they are quite unusual. The bell  or cup shaped flower emerges a creamy white and will slowly darken to purple over time. The flower sits on open sepals that look very much like a saucer surrounding the cup, hence the common name.DSC_0003

A word of caution, t his plant likes humidity and water and will quickly be infested with spider mites if left to dry out. It is very humid here in the summer and I have it planted in a self-watering planter, so it is loving life.

Being a tender perennial, as opposed to an annual, I am going to try to overwinter this vine inside this year. I hope to give it a good haircut in the late Fall and place it in the bay window and see what happens. At the very least I hope it will survive to be replanted again in the Spring…and at the very best I hope I will be enjoying the lovely flowers indoors all winter long.  Only time will tell!

The photos I took below are of the flower over just two days.The  change in color  is already remarkable.  DSC_0001 DSC_0002


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This Sunday I will be speaking to the New England Hosta Society on Designing with Vines. Many gardening topics get me unduly excited, but anything to do with vining, scrambling or climbing plants sends me into the stratosphere ( as far as gardening goes).  Dorky, yes, but grow any of the annual vines I am about to list, and you too will be smitten.

So here is my the list of vine seeds waiting for the first frost free days to get sown and work their garden magic:

Morning Glories: Grandpa Ott, Crimson Rambler, and Heavenly Blue which get a place in the garden every year and new additions for 2015′ Vega Star’, ‘Dragonfly Blue’, and ‘Kikyo-zak’ mix, and a newcomer from 2014 that has earned a permanent place, ‘Sunrise Serenade’.

Other repeat growers include: Basella rubra ( climbing spinach) vigna unguiculata  ( pretzel bean), Runner Bean Painted Lady, Dolichos lablab (hyacinth bean’ Ruby Moon’),Antigonon Leptopus( Chinese love vine), Moonflower, cardinal climber , Nasturtiums’ Cherries Jubilee’ and’ Moonligh’t,  Climbing Black Eyed Susan Vine , and Sweet pea ‘Cupani’.

New varieties will include two nasturtiums, ‘Glorious Gleam’ and a variegated one, A sweet pea called ‘Elegance Salmon Rose’ Thunbergia alata ‘Spanish Eyes’ ( climbing black eyed Susan).DSC_0046

As far as perennial vines go , I started seeds of a species clematis called c.  columbiana , a native that will grow in the rock garden ,much  like it’s  it’s natural   habitat,

and I have ordered  replacements for some  sad losses , clematis tangutica ‘My Angel’ ( unsure why it died )and Rosa ‘William Baffin’ ( rabbits) and am toying with replacing the bignonia I lost to cold last winter but am still on the fence about it. It  would need a more sheltered location and those favored spots more often go to something more desirable and difficult than bignonia, we will see.

I am also hopeful that this is the year my climbing monkshood FINALLY blooms, fingers crossed!IMG_20150321_211530005


While I was sitting here looking through the seed box( Pumpkin was helping) I managed to spill about 10,000 poppy seeds all over ,into, and under the couch. Really thrilled about that, but honestly ,given my luck sowing them and protecting the flowers  from the rabbits, it was probably for the best.

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Morning Glory Madness Starts Now

Those of you who have heard me speak on “Design With Vines” know I am crazy about Morning Glories. Well let’s be honest all Ipomea species really have my heart.001 (4)

I love Ipomoea quamoclit, commonly called cypress vine for it’s featherly foliage and sweet star shaped flowers.

I love Ipomoea sloteri ( or x multifida) foe it’s vry cool palm shaped foliage and the hummingbirds love the flowers.006

But it is the old fashioned morning glory, or Ipomoea purpurea that ranks # 1 for me. So easy to grow, covered in sweet little flowers  in colors I adore, and don’t even get me started about all the new varieties I have yet to try.

But this post isn’t meant to do homage to my old -timey fav, it is meant as a reminder to get some Morning Glory seeds started in the house for winter bloom.  I may have admonished you not to been stingy in using all the seeds in your annual seed packets, but that came with a caveat to save just a few  Morning \Glories for the first week of August. Well, it is just that, so go find them.004

Soak the seeds in warm water overnight to soften the outer coating, then stick them in a pretty pot the next morning that has some sort of trellis or small obelisk in it. You can even use three pretty twigs arranged tee-pee style from a white birch tree if you prefer. Place it in a sunny spot near a window and you will be so very happy in December when you awaken on a dreary morning to find your first flower opening with the sun.

I like the foliage of the variety ‘Picotee’. It is a little fuzzy and thicker than the others, the flowers are very attractive too having that cute little frilly white edge. I have startted Picotee  indoors several times, and even combined it with a second variety for even more color.023 (3)

One year I placed two in one pot and that worked well .005 (7)023 (2)





.This year I plan to try Grandpa Ott 001 (7)and a new one for me called Sunrise Serenade which has a very unique flower form in smashing ruby red. Fingers crossed for this one to bloom like mad.

If you have other annual vines seeds hanging around and have the space , give them a go as well. Last winter I grew Love-in-a- puff  Halicacabum cardiospermum in the window as well and it climbed and flowered well until late spring.054



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It’s coming…

Picture1This weekend on Saturday night at  precisely 2:00 am begins our Daylight Saving Time, initially proposed as  a way to save electricity used by incandescent lighting (it did not) , it’s new purpose is to provide us more daylight in the evening after we presumably get out of work and are looking to frolic outdoors.  Although it means an hour of lost sleep to us in Spring (I don’t know about you but every few years I miss something because I forgot about the time change) , it is a lift to the spirit to have it light out at 6:00 pm and does help me get over  my tendency to hibernate in the cold dark months of winter. Love it or hate it, it is also the signal to get going  on plans for the garden, and that is exactly what I have been up to.

I am planning a complete overhaul of the side yard including the addition of three white pyramid tutuers I ordered from White Flower Farm,tutr planted with several new clematis hybrids and climbing roses. Pouring over rose catalogues and the clematis offerings of my favorite online nursery sources was one of the joys of winter and I have settled on two clematis ‘I am lady J’ ( in honor of my gram who was Jane)SONY DSCand ‘Wildfire’5CLEWILD and two roses, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ and climbing’Iceberg’.  there will also be a hydrangea tree h.paniculata  ’Quickfire’  I am transplanting  from elsewhere in the garden, some little bluestem grasses  along with  the 5 different spirea cultivars that are currently in the area that will be rearranged . The planning has been a wonderful respite from the gloom of February, but now I am sort of dreading the execution which will involve bringing in new soil , lots of digging  and I am sure a few frustrating moments when the garden fails to meet the glorified pink purple and white plan in my head.

I have also been ordering  a number of plants I saw on garden tours over the summer that I fell in love with including hydrangea serrataPreziosa’  and a knautia called’ Thunder and Lightening’ . I will stop the list there lest Wil actually reads the post through , does the math , and cancels the credit card I use for online ordering. Shhh. I am trusting you not to tell.010

As always I am following my own advice and have stocked up on seeds of interesting annual vines for late season display ( morning glories, moonflower, cup and saucer vine, sweet peas, cypress vines, asarina species, nasturtiums and thunbergia alata …. I adore this one and I have many packets of seeds I saved from last year’s hyacinth bean vines, bottle gourds, pretzel beans etc. You should get on this same task  if you haven’t already. Make sure you add sweet pea lathyrus odoratus’Cupani’ to your orders/plans , it is a strong bloomer, divine  in color and scent, and heat tolerant. Happy Shopping!!!
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Plant Profile: One Thoroughly Amazing Honeysuckle( and a few runners-up)


I grow a number of honeysuckle ,or lonicera ,species in my garden and each has at least one attribute that makes it a must-have for me , and I would hope for you too.019 (7)

Lonicera periclymenum   ‘Harlequin’ has beautifully shaped variegated leaves with yellow/white margins that turn a deep rose color in the fall. It sports dark pink buds that open to pastel pink and cram colored blooms that have a slight sweet fragrance. The foliage alone makes this a great choice for  an arbor or against a fence as it is so beautiful. I grow 2 here, one behind and working its way into two large azeleas and one recently planted to climb on my new arbor tunnel out back.005

Lonicera fragrantissima  (above) is often called winter or fragrant honeysuckle because it has  flowers that emerge very early in the year that can scent the whole garden. It is worth its’  weight in gold because there few other plants that do much of anything in February and March, let alone give you a heavenly fragrance to enjoy. This honeysuckle is a shrub and well behaved especially given the family it belongs to. A few of its’ unruly cousins are out to conquer the world and difficult to manage in any garden. Not this guy! I wish I had room to have a whole hedge of them.peaches and cream

Lonicera periclmenum ‘Peaches and Cream’ (above) is a delightful new addition for me this year. It has lovely dark green foliage and grows to only 6 feet ,tops. White Flower Farm’s catalogue calls it “civilized” and I agree. It is compact and well mannered.  This honeysuckle has large dark purple buds that open to dark pink and creamy white, fading to a peachy cream , hence the name. It has already cycled through two long bloom sessions here with a short break in between. It is touted as resistant to mildew on the leaves but I have read reviews that beg to differ. Only time will tell, but the blossoms are  just lovely and sweetly scented too. 032

My favorite of all of them  is Lonicera sempervirens “Major Wheeler” . I planted two of these bines*  several years ago having ordered them from High Country Gardens on a whim.

Well, that was one great whim!  The dark green foliage is clean of mildew all year and the plants begin to bloom very soon after the leaves emerge in the very early spring. I planted one on an obelisk right outside my kitchen window and it has turned out to be one of my happiest garden decisions as hummingbirds flock to the red tubular nectar filled flowers  all summer long. Standing in front of the window with my first cup of coffee watching their antics is just about the best way to welcome the day I can think of.002 003 008029

Major Wheeler is never ever for one millisecond out of bloom from spring until at least into December. I have cut flowers that are on the bines even after all the leaves have dropped an there is snow on the ground.DSC_0006

The second plant I bought  was poorly sited in an area where the corgi dogs trampled it daily so I moved it last fall to the front fence. Now  it can be enjoyed all season by the many walkers that take their daily constitutional around the mile loop that is my road. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.

FYI , always use caution when picking and planting honeysuckle varieties. One in particular , Lonicera japonica, is  a noxious weed that will cover any real estate it can reach and seed everywhere to boot. Many others are very large and can collapse a structure with their weight. Of course, you have some great choices here, so why look any further ;)

Also, honeysuckles like full sun and will perform poorly in shade. The ones listed here  are all hardy to US zone 4 .


*bine is the word for climbing plants that twine around things when they grow. Wisteria, some honeysuckles, and hops are a few.






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It’s a Girl!

Well, actually like many expectant parents I knew the gender beforehand, I just needed to witness it for confirmation. And no, it’s not a new baby Monroe, that ship has quite happily sailed….. it is a hop plant.

Humulus lupulus ‘Aurea’ , more commonly called Golden Hops, has been growing for a few years  up a series of connected trellises under a birch tree in my back yard in to block off the view of the composting area from the back garden. I got it as a teeny little division ( rhizome to be exact) from a my gardening pal Gayle. The hop plant is actually a bine, which is a plant that will climb by twining it stems around something,  unlike a vine which uses tendrils  or suckers to latch on and climb  (honeysuckle and bindweed are also bines) . Golden Hops will climb to maybe 16 feet or so and can get a bit unruly in a small area as the rhizomes will  multiply and spread out quickly underground. Although it is herbaceous and dies down to the ground every winter, it shoots out like a rocket in spring and can get very large and very  heavy in a single  season. The hairy stems can cause  dermatitis if in contact with the skin for prolonged periods, so all in all ,careful placement is a necessity, but if you have the space this plant is just stunning in the garden.002

The deeply lobed leaves of golden hops  start out bright chartreuse and fade to a bright lime green. It is labeled as  preferring to grow in full sun to part shade, but as I said , mine is planted under a birch tree and much of the plant is in the full shade although as it grows into the tree it gets far more sun.014

Getting back to the “girl” part, hop plants are dioecious, which means that  male and female flowers occur on separate plants . The male flowers are small and not very showy  but are necessary for pollination if you are looking for seeds to form. The female flowers (called ”hops”)  are 1-2 inch  cones that are fragrant and quite showy, and as many of you may know , what we humans use to add aroma and flavor/bitterness to beer.

I like beer. I like plants, but you could not convince me to brew my own using hops I grew as I was present when Wil went through his “home-brewer” phase and the mess is only second to the horrific smell that permeates everything when you brew beer  in your kitchen. Anyway, the hops from this particular plant are purely ornamental and not used for brewing, and this year, my plant finally has them!006

FYI most ornamental hop plants sold in your local  nursery are female  ,it is just , well, you never know for certain until the flowers erupt. Mine did, they are cones , they are lovely indeed , and my plants’ gender is confirmed!

When they ripen  in September they will turn yellow and I am going to take them  down off the tree limb they are currently hanging from so I can enjoy their pine like fragrance up close and personal.








Just as a side note, the Humulus plant harkens from the plant family Cannabaceae. can Recognize any famous relatives?

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Ramping up the late summer garden

Not all plants are created equal. There are some plants that are difficult to grow, fussy to the point of frustration, needy, disease ridden, or completely incapable of facing any environmental challenge without curling up and moving on to that great garden in the sky.

Then there are plants that are so easy you keep asking yourself is it luck? any day now will whatever magical  charm has been  placed on them evaporate and  leave me  with a pile of dead brown sticks? can gardening be this easy?? As a group, annual ornamental vines fall squarely and securely into the latter category.

For mere pennies, ok 200 pennies , you can buy a packet of seeds at the hardware store( or if you are fussy 300 pennies plus shipping and handling will get you specific cultivars from the likes of Johhnys Select Seeds or Burpee), dig a little hole, water until germination and Viola! you get to enjoy  bloom covered masses of plants from late summer until hard frost.

Cypress vine ipomoea quamoclit, morning glory, purple hyacinth bean , scarlet runner bean,moon flower ipopmea alba ,cup and saucer vine cobaea scandens , purple bell flower rhodochiton astrosanguineum , climbing spinach basella rubra,  spanish flag mina lobata, love in a puff caardiospermum halicacabum ,climbing black eyed susan thunbergia spc,nasturtiums, mandevilla ,even bottle gourds are all quick easy and almost foolproof additions to the late summer garden. *

A few others, like  asarina scandens which needs a 10-12 week head start indoors , and climbing aster aster carolinianus whcih needs things a little more damp, are worth a try as well.

This time of year anything you can add to your garden to help assuage that  sinking feeling  summer has past by and soon another winter will be here is essential. Not a year goes by that I am not grateful for the bevy of ornamental vines that are now coloring my garden, check out some photos below.

Next year I am going to try again ( third time is the charm?????) to start climbing monkshood aconitum hemsleyanum ,if  anyone has ever started it from seed successfully or better yet knows of a vendor who sells started plants let me know.


*in New England, where all of these are annual, feel free to grow and enjoy…in southern states where these vines are perrenial or seed can oerwinter many can be thugs

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Who says a September Garden is a Yawn??

Funny, in the past week or two I have extended an invitation to several people to come see the garden and they have all replied the same way..”ooooh , I’d love to , but September probably isn’t   a great month to view your garden”.  Well, that is just flat out wrong when it comes to this dessert location. First off, I have just as much in bloom, berry and color as I do at any other time, AND you can enjoy it in the beautiful gentle September sunlight (that would be unlike the July sunlight that here in The  Burrow could incinerate you in a matter of seconds).

Here is a photo ( or 40 lol)

Joe -pye weed Eupatorium  ”Gateway  and black eyed susans co-mingle

Asters growing in pots to save them from the rabbits are starting

this large sunflowery plant whose name I do not know is lovely

red velvety snapdragons beg to be touched

The dahlias are in full bloom everywhere. I just read today that the double forms lost their nectar forming parts(?) in an effort to super size the flower and are therefore useless to bees. Next year it is back to the single forms for me.

This sunflower came from a mixed seed packet and I really don’t care for it’s droopy petals, but here it is alongside a hyacinth bean vine .

Rudbeckias add so much to the garden in September. Here is “Denver Daisy”

These tiny inconspicuous flowers on the calicarpa bush mean a great show of vivd purple berries is in store for the winter garden

I grow lots and lots of sedum. This is an’ Autumn Joy’ paired with a ‘Brilliant”. The bees go nutso like wacky nectar addicts looking for a fix when the sedum is in bloom

Rosa’The Fairy” goes all summer long, right up until frost

I let the amaranths self seed wherever they wanted to this year, and only ended up pulling a few. They really add a lot of color and drama in a very effortless lazy way.Here the green and burgundy seeded next to a rose bush

This new mum,  ’Centerpiece’,  is growing next to salvia ‘Royal Crimson Distinction’ . The salvia has been one of my star performers this year. It has flowered for great lengths of time, been cut back, and reflowered 3 times already with hardly any break. The mum came from Faribault  growers in MN. In spring (which is when you should plan the  hardy mums they are trying to sell you now) I ordered quite a few of them from this grower I heard of from a  fellow blogger  . many of them are in bloom now, and I am hoping many overwinter (crossed fingers)

Here is one called ‘Red Daisy’,  in it’s handy dandy rabbit fence enclosure

Rose of Sharon adds lots of punch to the late summer border without taking up lots of real estate. I grow quite a few new cultivars, but here is an old standard  pink that is just as nice

and this verbena called “Annie’ came from High Country Gardens.It blooms non-stop from probably late May until frost and is hardy here in zone 5 and gently spreading. Awesome groundcover plant!

The paniculata forms of Hydrangea all have the first pink-ish tinge on their white flowers, and soon will be cut to dry for arrangements and wreaths.

Rosa ‘Carefree Spirit” is still going strong

and the perennial geraniums are in their second flush of blooms after being cut back in late July

Caryopteri ( Blue Mist Shrub)s is alive and humming with polinators, who can’t seem to get enough of it

The Butterfly bushes, this is ‘Pink Delight’, are also humming with bees and butterflies all day (and Pumpkin who is fascinated by them and wandered into the shot)

This Sedum, a new one called ‘Hab Gray” is lovely both in foliage color, and it’s interesting pale yellow flowers. After it bloomed I left it uncut and the wind knocked it over. In a first for me with any sedum it flowered again all along the top of the stem that was facing the sun (like climbing roses do). Interesting, and a new thing to remember for future years.

The Heptacodium Miconoides tree is blooming for the first time this year.

The catmint has been going like gangbusters all summer, with little sign of slowing down.

The clematis vines that are done flowering are sporting their funky little seed heads all over…they are so  fun to look at and great to press.

The new Drift series of  low growing roses from the breeder of Knockout have performed wonderfully here all summer and look great now in the front gardens. The darker pink has a lovely light fragrance to boot.

Every year I grow a bunch of different annual vines. This year my fav has been the love in a puff cardiospermum halicacabum . The delicate foliage and flowers are crazy adorable, and the little puffs are beyond cute. When the puffs are dry you pop them open and the seed inside has a cool  heart shape on it, hence the name. It is a viscious weed elsewhere in the country, but is not hardy or a nuicance here. Lucky us!

My standard fav annual vine is , hands down, the hyacinth bean vine lablab purpurea. I hand out seeds to anyone who will take them, and like Johnny Appleseed (Cheryl beanseed ??) , hope many get planted and enjoyed. This year I planted them along the new fence, and WOW do I like the effect. The really come into their own in late August and throughout Sept-Oct, at a time the garden yearns for color. They are so easy to grow, too, needing nothing but sun and a little water to get them going.

Another beauty in the climbing department is this Thunbergia called ‘Blushing Susan’

Add in clematis vines: ‘Gravetye Beauty’, ‘terniflora’, ‘Pope John PAul II’, Comtesse de Bouchard’, ‘Rosea’, and Betty Corning’. Salvia ‘White Sensation’, Geum ,turtlehead , the pink and red Knockout roses, the end of the coneflowers, Roses Seafoam, New dawn, Golden Celebration, Magic Carpet,  and my unknown red climber; the awesome berries on all the viburums, hollies,and  snow berry bushes (symphoricarpos the species and ‘Amethyst’), massive colorful hips on the rugosa roses and rosa glauca, thesweet pink flowers covering the  bushcloverlaspedeza t. yakushimaNora Leigh and Franz Schubert phlox, ‘Annabelle’ hydrangaes, both yellow and pink potentillas, mallows, the fragrant hosta ‘Fragrant Boquet ’, gallardia, lonicera ‘Major Wheeler ‘ the two trumpet vines, the heavily loaded pearand apple trees and heritage raspberry canes,

then add in the annuals; nasturtiums, nicotianas,cosmos, verbenas, sweet peas, osteospermums (in purple, yellow and orange), torinia, and probably a dozen things I overlooked, and that DOES NOT add up to a yawn. I LOVE the September Garden

Happy Bloom Day!!!

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Morning Glories

Looking back , and I mean waaaaay back, to my life as a child, I think there were always voices in my head telling me what direction my life should take. For years, like the rest of small beings, they were drowned out by the well meaning intentions of my parents and teachers, and later on by my own misdirected and hormonal voices that as a know- it- all teenager could have drowned out a jet engine.

Now, as a all-grown up adult, I can hear them loud and clear, and I as I think back I can see they what they were telling me when I wasn’t listening.

Ask any of my siblings (2 sisters and 1 brother) about their childhood and they will wax on about childhood friends, neighborhood kickball games, and the veritable zoo of pets that and any one time resided within our walls. My younger sister has a phenomanal memory of places and people and astounds me with her recall of events  long forgotten by me 5 minutes after they happened.

If you were to ask me about my childhood home for instance, I will struggle to tell you what color it was ( maybe blue maybe green, maybe both although I don’t ever recall it getting painted), what the front steps looked like, or even they layout of the inside rooms. It is all very fuzzy and located in a place in my brain I apparantly do not have good access to.

But in full technicolor with oflactory back-up I can walk you around our yard. As you came down our dirt driveway the left side was bordered by  a lilac hedge that belonged to the neighbor, and was glorious in the spring. The hedge was on the far side of their house, so picking was always an option. At the termination of the hedge, and now in our yard, was a giant horsechestnut tree. Those massive leaves, the incredilble inflorencence, followed by what every kid dreams of; free stuff from nature that can be used as weapons. The mace like seed pods of the chestnut provided many a colorful word when stepped on, and lots of battles pitching them at each other.Fun stuff  indeed. 

Straight on from there you were looking at the front of the house, where to the right loomed an easlily  100 foot pine that shaded the whole driveway. To the right of the pine was a little raised bed my Dad sometimes grew strawberries in.

To the left side of the house was another evergreen, probably a spruce as it’s branches remained all the way to the ground. In back of that was a skinny maple that was always ringed with pansies my Mother planted. To the left of the maple was an old cherry tree that my Dad (?) built a landing/treehouse in. The tree’s trunk separated into three parts only a few feet off the ground making it very easy to climb.The cherries were never edible, but as a loookout perch it was ideal.

In the “back” yard next to the white house with the very nasty dog, my Dad had  enclosed an area with wire fencing and often grew vegetables (tomatoes, cukes, green beans, and oddly I recall rhubarb but can’t remeber if that is where it was planted).

Behind our clothesline, was the back end of our neighbor, Mr. Burke’s, property. His land was shaped like a very long rectangle, so although his house was further down almost on Main Street, his backyard was way back here abutting ours. In this peice of land that was un-tended to , grew all sorts of fun stuff including raspberries and blackberries we could pick and eat while standing there looking furtively about in case he was watching. At the edge of his land and separating us from another house was a large hedge that I would swear was privet, but I remember it being very tall, which may not be the case as I was little. We had carved out a little opening in the bottom so you could squish down and actually get into the hedge and hide.

If you went to the end of our road you would enter a wood, ownership unknown, where there were lots of trees to climb and trails to follow until you hit the railroad tracks, an area I think we were not supposed to be in.

All in all, I think our yard was pretty small, but it held such wonders for me. I remember raking leaves (fondly ,which I know is odd ) and making up many games in and around yard. I remember the earwigs that inhabited the veggie garden, and got on the laundry when it was hung on the clothes line to dry.

It is telling that my fondest memory is that skinny maple ringed by pansies, and I am guessing that the flower gardener in me was focusing on the one area in the yard that was adorned. There was also magically ( or so I thought) a perfectly true blue morning glory vine that appeared there eevry summer twinning up the tree and blooming that odd and mesmerizing color. This year I have purchased seeds, which I started indoors in May of that same vine, ipomoea violacea .I have done this in the past, with little success, usually by the time the vine gets big enough to flower the first frost hits the next day, and they are trash.

But this year the morning glories are , in a word,  GLORIOUS! Ahhhhh memories.

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