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Vines for Every Season


Dumbarton Oaks

August is a tough time for southern gardeners.  The forecast today is like much of our summer has been with temperatures predicted  in the 90’s, but this morning was delightful and even a bit cool.  As I was watering and weeding I had to admire my Clematis ‘Arabella’ still flowering in late August when many plants look tired and worn out.   Although it blooms profusely in May, this clematis also blooms sporadically through the summer and requires very little from me.  In my garden I let it scramble through perennials, like a groundcover.  A hardy vine (Zone 4 to 9), it will grow 4 to 6’ tall, perfect for trailing over a shrub or growing up a small trellis.   This good doer got me thinking about vines and plants that climb.  There are vines for every occasion including those that bloom, those with striking foliage, fruiting selections and, some that offer interesting bark.

Clematis 'Arabella' in August

Milletia reticulata blooms in August and offers mostly evergreen foliage.  Known as evergreen wisteria, (Zone 7 to 10) it offers magenta pea-like flowers with a strong scent.  I have read a description that describes their perfume as similar to camphor but I don’t know exactly what that means.  I get a sweet, slightly spicy scent.  Unlike the genus Wisteria, Milletia is not invasive and the foliage is glossy.    

Milletia reticulata in August

While perusing the vine collection on a recent visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden ( a few weeks ago) I spotted the native scarlet clematis, Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty.’ (Zone 4 to 11)  I got to see both  flowers and showy seed heads of the spent blooms on the same plant.  This clematis begins to bloom in mid-summer and often continues into autumn.  Growing  6 to 8’ it is one I plan to add to my garden this fall. I think I will plant it on the same trellis that supports my rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin.’  Also blooming in this collection was a hardy passion flower with fragrant white blooms  called Passiflora caerulea ‘Constance Eliott.’ According to Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery* this passion flower may be hardy to Zone 6 with some protection.  And, the fruits are edible.  

Passiflora caerulea 'Constance Eliott'

For evergreen vines Kadsura japonica ‘Chirimen’ offers a choice with interesting variegated leaves.  If you can’t find this cultivar look for ‘Chirifu’ which is similar in its appearance.  Hardy from Zone 7 to ll, this vine is happiest  in part shade. 

Clematis texensis 'Gravetye Beauty' seed heads

A fall bloomer, Aster carolinianus  flowers as late as November and is ideal for training through an open brick wall or chain link fence.  Native to the coastal southeastern US, it  (Zone 7 to 9)  will also scramble over a shrub putting on a show when it is covered with blue-purple daisies (yellow centers). 

Aster carolinianus in November

As fall approaches and the weather begins to cool (we hope) it’s a good time to add plants to your garden.  When you do, don’t forget to include some  versatile vines. 

Mail Order Sources for Vines

Brushwood Nursery, Athens, Georgia,

Joy Creek Nursery, Scappoose, Oregon,  (great selection of clematis)

Woodlanders, Aiken, South Carolina, (rare native and exotic plants)

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One Response to “Vines for Every Season”

  1. Erica says:

    Sorry I just found this comment about the vine ID. Could you email me a photo? The begonia part throws me off.
    It sounds a bit like Parthenocissus henryi and it should be available in Atlanta, maybe at Scottsdale Farms, Ashe-Simpson or Habersham Gardens.
    A photo would be great.

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