By Charles Hopkins
Published 04/25/2006 | Gardening
If you have an unsightly fence to hide or a shed that spoils your view, growing a vine over it could be the way to go. Grape or passionfruit vines, if your climate suits them, will give the added benefit of bearing delicious fruit.
Vines can enhance your garden in many different ways apart from just covering an eyesore. They provide shade when grown over a pergola, give privacy or help reduce traffic noise and dust. The main thing to be sure of when growing a vine is that the structural support for it is strong enough. Some vines are vigorous climbers and can be extremely weighty when fully grown.
The grape vine and the ornamental grape vine with its vivid fall colors are both in this category. So is the wisteria. It is one of the most beautiful of flowering vines with its dainty leaves and long clusters of white or purple flowers that hang down in lush abundance. Its appeal is not only visual, for the heavenly scent will pervade a large area around it.
The passionfruit is less vigorous, though it still requires a strong support. For warmer climates, the red-flowering variety is spectacular, but the fruit is tiny and inedible.
Most climbing rose varieties are vigorous climbers, needing the strong support of a large trellis or pergola. Rambling roses will wander happily along a low fence and the ground around about it.
Some vines actually cling with tiny roots to the surface over which they climb. Ivy, wisteria and the orange trumpet vine are in this category. They may actually damage brick or stone walls that have cracks in them. Other vines wrap curling tendrils around whatever support is available. They can choke out another shrub if allowed to use it for support.
The diplodenia has large pink flowers and is a more sedate climber that must be encouraged to wend its way upward. Ideal for those supports that are not quite so sturdy, the diplodenia prefers a frost-free area and sheltered position. It is one of the few vines that prefer alkaline soil, making it the ideal choice if you have cemented your arch into the ground, since cement makes the surrounding ground alkaline.
Black-eyed Susan is another vine that will quickly cover a fence. It has bright yellow flowers with a black centre and can be grown in snowy areas as an annual, though it tends to take over in temperate regions.
Worthy of mention is the bougainvillea, which is happiest in warm to hot areas. It is a vigorous climber with brightly colored bracts of rose, pink and orange shades that hide the true, tiny flower inside. The down side is the long spikes, so be careful if this vine is your choice. A light leaf prune is all that the bougainvillea requires. If it is pruned hard, it will send up long shoots that never flower.
Other vines include jasmine, clematis, the cissus varieties that require ample moisture and the kennedias that are vigorous climbers.
Most vines give good value for money and are easy to care for, though some require fairly consistent pruning. Whatever vine you choose it will be sure to give years of pleasure and satisfaction.