Vines and family peace


Every garden needs a vine. Boston ivy, Honeysuckle, Morning Glories, grapes – it doesn’t matter, they’re all interesting and fun. Vines work great as ground cover, create some height or hide an ugly spot. I love the climbing roses and climbing hydrangea but my favorite vine is the clematis.

Clematis have woody stems, are vigorous growers and in my experience not picky about sun versus shade location. The blossoms range from bright white and pale pink to knock-your-eyes out neon fuchsia and deep, rich purple. These showy blossoms arrive mid- to late-summer in my gardens and last for more than a month. And when I say showy I’m talking flowers that are the size of my hand with fingers spread all the way up to almost a dinner plate in size.

My first clematis was a deep purple that I planted near the dog run at my former home. It was slow to start, almost seeming dead after the first winter. And then as though it decided this was going to be okay – it took off. In just a few summers one plant engulfed the entire fence with deep green leaves and beautiful purple flowers.

So I moved on and planted a white with rose-pink striations species near my mailbox. Again, it seemed like it took a year or two of two-foot scraggly looking, skimpy vines with a couple blossoms and then voila masses and masses of vines, leaves and amazing blossoms.

The vines are very sturdy and salt and winter resistant.

Not my mailbox (wish I did have a photo), but you get the general idea.

My second son’s first vehicle was an old, sunburnt survey truck (complete with yellow light on top) that I won in a silent auction through my company. For a 16-year-old it was love at first sight.

In his first winter with the truck, Steve and his buddies decided that each wanted to perfect the ultimate donut. I’m not clear where they were practicing this trick, but I do know Steve began to make it a habit to donut in the snow in front of our driveway twirling in a very “James Bond” maneuver to a stop at the curb in front of the house. His father chewed him out on several occasions that this was not a good idea (Dave may have used stronger words).

Of course it was only a few weeks before I got a call on my cell phone from Steve. He was clearly upset. He said the old truck had jumped the curb and broken the mailbox. He promised to pay for a new one if I would make sure his father didn’t kill him. It all went well. Dave was calm. And surprisingly Steve didn’t have to pay for a new mailbox.

The clematis were so entwined around the wooden base and the metal mailbox at the top that even though the base was clearly cracked all the way through – everything was still standing! Dave balanced the box and pedestal a little more erect and we were good to go.

The mailbox and its supporting clematis made it another two years in that condition. Occasionally I’d trim the vines away from the flag or the door of the box, but other that it was a great solution. The vines held everything securely in place until Dave eventually replaced the post.

If you want to learn more about clematis, this is a great website.

About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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