climb, climb, flower, climb

Late summer and early fall may be my favorite time of year in the garden, mainly because some of the more substantial plants are at their peak: full-sized, flowering. Good examples of this are the flowering vines. Most are annuals, and have spent much of the summer growing up and over whatever they could.

Today I look at each of them, specifically their blooms. We'll start with the Cardinal Climber, which as I recently mentioned has finally started blooming.


This is the first year I've grown it, and wasn't sure what to expect. Although I knew the foliage was different than that of cypress vine which I've been growing for years, for some reason I thought the flowers were pretty much the same on the two:

That's not the case.

Here's cypress vine:

Similar of course, but cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) and cardinal climber (Ipomoea sloteri) are clearly different species. I don't know yet if cardinal climber will reseed as "easily" as cypress vine does, but I'll find out next year.

Speaking of cypress vine, I didn't plant a single one this year, but I've got at least a half-dozen growing in the yard. This is the only white one though:

Next up is corkscrew vine (Vigna caracalla):

This one was a late start for me this year, as the cutting I overwintered got eaten by rabbits or slugs and I had to start another seed. (I'm going to keep two cuttings going this winter just in case.)

There is some confusion about whether there are two different species that are sold as this plant, one that looks like this with fragrant blooms, and one that looks like the plant I originally grew with no fragrance. Some sources report they are the same species, while other report that they are different genuses. Whatever the details, this is the one I want!

Sharing a small (but newly-expanded) pergola with this guy is my main Malabar spinach (Basella alba 'Rubra') vine:

The flowers aren't much to look at, but there are bazillions of them and the bees like them.

I must have gotten a late start on all of the vines this year, as this guy was covered in berries by this time last year. Maybe that's a good thing though, as I had plenty of volunteers this year -- enough to give away.

The perennial passion flower vine (Passiflora incarnata) that I've posted about several times this year is still going:

Plenty of fruit left too:

Although I just realized that I forgot to pick up several that were on the patio yesterday. I'm sure the raccoons got them last night, darn it.

I guess I have to include this rogue butternut squash vine that has really taken off in the last month or so:

It won't produce any fruits for me, but it's just beautiful!

It's also shown me that the deer won't eat this squash, so I'm going to plant a few vines outside of the fenced area next year and see what happens. Love it!

Next up is the butterfly pea or blue pea vine (Clitoria ternatea):

This is a relatively small vine, at least in the areas I'm growing it. The flowers are wonderfully blue though, and the foliage is a nice change from the rest of the vines I grow:

In fact, this is a good time to give you an update on the boxspring trellis I made during the summer:

The vines haven't had time to form an impenetrable wall, but not too bad for such a late planting.

Although this post is supposed to be about the climbing, flowering vines I grow, I should point out that I'm growing other types of vines too. I have several ornamental sweet potatoes:

A couple of different types of ivy too:

And don't forget about the vinca major:

Actually I have forgotten about the vinca this year -- I typically cut it back once during the summer to help keep it in check, but I didn't this year. I'll do that as a fall chore I guess.

Okay, so back to the flowering vines. There's really just one left, but it's the queen of the vines in my garden: hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus)!

It's such a beauty! It's not only the blooms that are so beautiful, but the seed pods are amazing too:

I have this growing purposefully in four places in my garden. Bees love it, hummingbirds visit it too, has a slight fragrance, looks fantastic -- there's nothing not to love. That's why I let it grow up my deck supports to reach the railing each year:

This is a good time to show you wider shots of some of these vines. (A few of these images appeared in recent posts):

Beautiful! I haven't mentioned what may be obvious, but the purpose of these vines is to provide greenery and blooms where it normally wouldn't be found: up in the air, against a wall, on a railing. They're so key to my garden that I'd never consider not growing them. Never!

So that's a look at the flowering vines in my garden this year. I may have missed a small volunteer Spanish flag vine (Ipomoea lobata) somewhere, and I think I've seen a blue morning glory-type weed in one of the beds, but I'm not really counting those.

If you don't have flowering vines climbing through and above your garden, you're really missing out!

Incidentally, I've got some deer resistance data for these vines, based on my own experience:

  • Malabar spinach: deer will eat leaves
  • Hyacinth bean: deer will eat leaves
  • Blue pea vine: deer will eat leaves
  • Cardinal climber: do not know
  • Corkscrew vine: do not know
  • Cypress vine: have never seen anything eat


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sandy lawrence –   – (September 28, 2012 at 10:43 AM)  

I enjoyed this post, Alan. I am crazy about vines and consider them underused in most gardens. They seem to be a plant variety that people either really like or really hate, but I find them useful as well as beautiful. I use the hyacinth bean vine on panels of hog wire hung from the roof to shade one entire wall of the screened in back porch in summer. Because of the mild winter last year, they all came back voluntarily this spring. I've never had the beautiful results you do with the malabar spinach, however.

scottweberpdx  – (September 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM)  

I'm so jealous of your Hyacinth Bean...I've never had luck with them...but I've seen them in other gardens and they are absolutely stunning.

Anonymous –   – (September 28, 2012 at 7:59 PM)  

Wow! You have some beautiful vines and really creative ways in growing them. I visit your blog daily and always enjoy your posts. Thanks for taking time out of your day to keep us posted.

Lisa  – (September 28, 2012 at 8:41 PM)  

Vines are the next addition to my garden, after reading this post! All beautiful!

Barbie  – (September 29, 2012 at 8:39 AM)  

Wow - I love the passion fruit and the cardinal climber best - but they are all very special. Thanks for post. I am trying to grow passion fruit, so I will be patient!

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