I donít care what the calendar says. I donít feel summer has really arrived until the morning glories are in bloom. These lovely annual vines have such romantic appeal.
Vines may be annual, perennial, or even woody. They have numerous uses in the landscape. One of the most striking annuals is the crimson starglory (Mina lobata). Easily grown from seed, it has long clusters of flowers. Towards the top of the cluster are the beautiful flower buds, while lower down on the stem the flowers that have already opened are white to yellowish.
If you want plants suitable for the edible landscape, youíre in luck. The scarlet runner bean has long been a favorite for this purpose. Depending on the variety, its blossoms may be scarlet or other colors. But you can count on them to be very lovely. Of course, the young bean pods are edible.
I donít know how the hyacinth bean got its name. Neither the beans nor pods resemble hyacinth or even water hyacinth for that matter. Hyacinth bean vines can be quite vigorous. Given good growing conditions, they can reach fifteen feet in length. All parts of the plant are ornamental, including the striking blue-green foliage, the dark purple pea-like flowers and the gorgeous purple edible bean pods.
If youíre looking for vines with edible flowers, the climbing nasturtium is perfect. This old fashioned vine can grow to about six feet in length. It has the typical spurred, fragrant flowers like all nasturtiums. They may range in color from white, to red, yellow, and orange. The gray-green nasturtium leaves are particularly attractive, and they have such an unusual shape, almost round. Nasturtium flowers are edible at any stage.
The old fashioned sweet peas are making a comeback. Many of the fragrant, old heirloom varieties are available again. The earlier sweet peas are planted, the better they will bloom.
Though the true blue morning glories are the most popular, there are numerous varieties available. I prefer a mix of solids and bicolors. Be sure and soak the seed before planting them because you will get better germination. Soak overnight in just enough water to cover the seeds. Install the support just after planting or when the plants are very young because they can grow really fast.
There are numerous other kinds of vines grown either for food or as ornamentals. Now that lots of people seem interested in home brewing, the hops vine seems to be making a comeback. This vigorous vine can reach thirty feet,
so provide good support.
During the autumn, we see countless kinds of gourds available for sale. These can be grown in hills as you would melons and squash. But the most practical method is to use a trellis or other support.
In addition to the gourds used for fall decorations, there are many useful kinds. Long before humans made pottery, they used gourds for containers and utensils. These are also made into birdhouses and musical instruments.
From the loofah sponge and edible gourds to the climbing roses, vines enhance our lives and beautify our gardens.