Pulling down more vines

This is the time of year when I realize just how many different annual vines I had growing in my garden. Toward the end of the growing season they've become an integral part of the garden but really go unnoticed -- the deck railing is supposed to have the hyacinth bean vine on it, the triangle pergola is supposed to be a wall of feathery cypress vines. I just don't think about them too much.


Once the first freeze hits and they all die though, it's a different story. Overnight they've become towering masses of brown, making the garden seem sadder, and reminding me that I need to do some cleanup. Lots of cleanup.

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I already pulled down the single-pole cypress vine trellis because that was probably the simplest vine removal job around, but as you can see in the photo above there are plenty more vines to clear. Today I'll tackle this one:


Although there are a lot of freeze-damaged flowers and immature seed heads on this plant:


there are still plenty of ripened seed pods:


and they will drop seeds like crazy:


I've given up trying to contain the spread of these seeds, and have just resigned myself to the fact that next year there will be little feathery cypress vine seedlings growing all over this area and pretty much everywhere else in my garden. They're very distinctive and easily pulled, so not much hassle.

This vine is on a tripod trellis (made from electrical conduit), but when I made it I couldn't find the correct size of hose clamp, so I had to add a couple of extra pipes as filler:


They worked themselves loose during the year (I think I left this trellis up through last winter too, so it was really two years) so I was able to easily dismantle the trellis and pull the poles out of the ground leaving just a big mound of vines:


This made it pretty easy to yank the vines out of the ground, but they were also growing up the castor bean plant (now sad and leaning) and all of the other plants in the area. Removing them from all of those plants took a bit more work, and I ended up having to pull down some perennials that I usually leave over the winter -- like the Echinacea (purple coneflowers). I like to leave them for the birds, and I was able to salvage a few seed heads, but several of them came down with the cypress vines. That's okay -- just less work in the spring, right?


So with the vines removed, I couldn't leave the castor bean in that condition, so I removed all of the leaves and most of the smaller branches.

Remember that this is the plant that was damaged in a storm this summer, and it looks like my repair job was pretty successful:



The first year I grew castor beans I removed them completely during the fall, but then I realized that since they were so thick, woody, and tree-like I might as well leave them over the winter.


So now I just cut off the smaller branches, leaving a nice structure for the birds to use if they want to.


It adds a nice visual element to the garden too, which is very welcome after the temperatures drop and the snows arrive.

So that's another vine cleaned up. I just did a quick count in my head, and I think I have about 10 more to go. I did the two easiest ones first. Not sure if that was the best strategy.

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