Vines are wonderful plants. They can hide unattractive features such as your neighbor's messy yard or the enclosure where your garbage cans stand. They can cover a bare wall or a fence, and provide children with a sense of "wilderness" in which to play.
I visited with Master Gardener Myrl Bishop, who is a real expert on this topic, to glean some of her knowledge about a few vines that do well in the Rogue Valley.
Many vines are very fast-growing, so you don't have to wait years for them to do their magic. Some can grow 10, 20 or even 30 feet in just one season.
One of Myrl's favorites is coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). It blooms from mid-June through September. Its trumpet-shaped blossoms attract hummingbirds and have a wonderful perfume. This vine will twine around anything and tends to be sprawling, but it will give an airy look to your landscape. Provide it with a trellis, and it will grow 15 feet in a single season.
Moonflower is a night-blooming species of morning glory, and is an annual. Its large, white, fragrant blossoms open from sundown to sunup, midsummer to autumn. I plan to enjoy it at the edge of my patio, where it will grow to more than 15 feet. I'm hoping I will be successful in getting my moonflower seeds to sprout and grow in peat pots before I set them outdoors. I soaked the seeds first, as they have a very hard seedcoat. I'll keep you posted. If the seeds don't grow well (they are hard to get started, I'm told), I'll see whether I can find seedlings at a nursery.
Hops is a fast-growing annual that is best known as a key ingredient for beer. But even if you don't grow them for that purpose, the chartreuse "cones" — Myrl commented that there is a golden variety, too — and dark-green leaves will lend a bit of drama to your garden. This plant can grow as much as 12 inches in a day, reaching a height of 25 feet in a season. This is a robust-looking plant with rather stiff stems, so will take some training if you want it on a fence or other sturdy support. Otherwise, it will grow straight up.
Evergreen clematis has a lush, tropical look all year round. Its leaves are dark-green and waxy, and blooms in the spring with creamy white flowers. Myrl described the fragrance as "heavenly." This vine may grow to be 40 feet long, but it can be pruned back to keep it in check. Like hops, it needs sturdy support, not just a flimsy trellis. Although clematis is not a speed demon in its growth, this vine will delight you for many years.
Despite the fact that it takes some extra care to help it winter over, I love my mandevilla with its huge, trumpet flowers in deep pink. I grow two of them in large pots, cut them back just before frost, and overwinter them in the garage. Or you can treat them as annuals, as they are not hardy plants here.
Coming up: Yours truly will teach a class from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, about square-foot gardening, an intensive-gardening method. The class will be held at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. The cost is $5. Call 541-776-7371 to register.
Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.