Visitors’ first sight of my front garden – before.

I have a happy update to a rant about hating my arborvitae hedge, which I had removed in late 2019. (You may be wondering why I planted something so ugly in the first place – even before they started dying. Well, it’s about co-op rules, which I ranted about here.)

So the plan was to instead, screen my view of a parking lot and provide a sense of enclosure and privacy by training vines on wires screwed into posts.

I planted the vines in the spring of 2020 and soon thereafter, as a fun pandemic project, I transformed the facade of my house by removing dull grey vinyl, restoring the original surface (cinder block) and painting it Wedgewood Blue, a color I’ve found to be universally liked.

All those hardscape-type changes are super-quick and satisfying, unlike the frustrating delays we gardeners suffer until FINALLY achieving the results we hoped for from new plants. And patience isn’t my long suit.

I chose as my primary vine for the job crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’), which has the great advantages of being evergreen and also a very “garden-worthy” native plant that I can enthusiastically recommend for the new gardeners I know who are looking for them. It also grows relatively fast (when in sun), and now with its first great burst of flowering, is ready for its close-up!

After, as of this week.

Another vine I’m ready to show off is the native honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’), seen here center-top. It grows even faster (and straight up if you don’t train it otherwise) and produces abundant flowers at the same time as the crossvine.

It’s a total thrill for me to inspect the vines every morning, coffee and camera in hand.  Who needs azalea blooms when these vines are at their peak?

A closer look at the honeysuckle.

And the crossvine. Colors NOT enhanced!


The view from my patio.

Another vine I’m excited to see bloom, finally, is this Clematis ‘The President,’ planted in 2021.  I’d read that it can take Clematis three years to bloom, so they’re right on schedule, I guess. Not so much the ‘Will Goodwin’ Clematis I planted at the same time. It’s alive and growing but still bloomless.

And finally, after my neighbors removed a tree on our shared property line I had posts and wires installed there and planted another crossvine (the fifth in the front garden; there’s another five in the back garden) but also another honeysuckle – ”John Clayton,’ with yellowish blooms. I love the look and the pollinator action on these native honeysuckles, and they’re certainly more manageable than the Asian honeysuckle, but I’ve been disappointed by their lack of fragrance. Goes to show you don’t always get every single quality you want in a plant. It’s not furniture, after all.

Here’s the view from my next-door neighbors’ garden, with their azalea collection in its glory. (The groundcover with white blooms is comfrey, which is very long blooming always abuzz with bees.)

What about annual vines?


Now for impatient gardeners like me, annuals vines are a must. They grow SO FAST and bloom SO MUCH, they got me through the first season or two when the perennial vines were just getting going. (Famously sleeping, then creeping before finally leaping.)

Morning glories, while very pretty, did produce thousands of seedlings, still present here and there. The price we pay, right?

Look, Mom! No flowers!

Then there’s the hyacinth bean vine that was massive but produced exactly two flowers – a mystery I’ve never solved.

So no more of those annuals but I am trying a purple bell vine this year.

My other vine obsession: removing the horrible ones from public spaces

As reported here, I’m part of a garden club team working to rid some public spaces of destructive English ivy.  So each morning, after the lovefest with crossvine, honeysuckle and Clematis in my garden, I drive to this spot nearby, where the ivy in trees is now gratifyingly DEAD but still covering most of the ground, along with wintercreeper and poison ivy.  I work about 30 minutes at a time and it’ll take summer, but it’s a worthy project and I’m determined! And what’s a gardener to do without a project?