Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
--Iris Murdoch

Vine Time: Twisting, Turning, Spiraling Upwards...

Flowering Vines captivate;
stretching, reaching for the heavens
achieving wonderous heights;
trailing cascading flowers
punctuating their climb.


For many years, my favorite climber was the glorious Morning Glory. It is so easy to grow; produces prolific flowers right up to frost; fresh flowers every day; a joyful climbing vine...

My favorite...that is, until I fell in LOVE with Black Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia)! Who can resist their perky golden flowers?
Luckily, this charming vine is an annual in New England. In warmer climates, Black-Eyed Susan Vine has the same reputation as Bittersweet does around here: It thrives too well.

Black-Eyed Susan Vines use their stems to twirl around as they climb (photo right).

Another vine with eye-catching flowers is the exotic Passion Flower Vine (along with cucumbers, peas and grape vines) have thin, curly tendrils that spiral around and around until they touch something they can hold onto (photo left).

Bower Vines (photo left) have glossy leaves and fragrant white and pink trumpet-shaped flowers. They also have tendrils that coil around, seeking support, as do peas (photo right).

Twining Climbers, like Wisteria, Honeysuckle and Clematis can grow quite large and heavy so they must have good strong support since they have been known to pull down arbors and even porches.

Locally, Bittersweet is a vine that often chokes out native plants, overtake nearby shrubs and strangling young trees. Trumpet Vine is such a vigorous grower that the utility company cuts ours back each year just around the time it reaches the top of our telephone pole. Friends of ours trim their Trumpet Vine back to the same height each year so that it now looks like a small topiary. Neatly kept in check, it is a glorious sight in bloom.

Climbing Hydrangea is an often-overlooked plant that deserves greater attention. It can be planted near a tall tree or brick wall. Although not a sprinter right out of the gate, each year your climbing hydrangea will pick up more speed. When in bloom, it puts on quite a show.

To hide an unsightly chain-link fence or create a privacy screen: Plant your vine, then select 3 or 4 evenly spaced main stems that you can fan out to secure to the fence. Trim the rest. If your vine has a single main stem, once the plant is planted, cut back the main stem to promote re-growth from the base of the vine. As the vine becomes established, selectively cut back crowded stems to promote growth in other areas.

If you are interested in adding some height to your garden with cascading blooms of flowering vine, please stop by Woodbridge for a good selection of climbers. Ask one of our friendly associates to help you find: Wisteria, Hydrangea, Bower Vine, Passion Flower, Grape, Morning Glory...and of course, Black-Eyed Susan Vine.


Article compiled by Renee C. Brannigan

for Woodbridge Greenhouses 2010

All Rights Reserved

"I think the true gardener
is a lover of his flowers,
not a critic of them.

I think the true gardener
is the reverent servant of Nature,
not her truculent, wife-beating master.

I think the true gardener,
the older he grows,
should more and more develop
a humble, grateful and uncertain spirit."

~Reginald Farrer, In a Yorkshire Garden, 1909

Pesky Pest: Lily Leaf Beetle

It started innocently enough with a few cute red beetles, brighter than ladybugs attracted to our lilies. Then we noticed a few holes munched through the leaves. That was weeks ago...but they're still here and still munching. A Google search identified them as Lily Leaf Beetle (Lilioceris lilii).

Lily Leaf Beetles have a familiar history. As with most of our pest problems, they were imported (from Europe and Asia) and have few local predators. These voracious beetles will only dine on the Lilium species including Turk's cap lilies, tiger lilies, Easter lilies, Asiatic, and Oriental lilies. Their larva can transform a proud lilies into a stark pole in less than a day. By eating all the foliage, they starve the bulb which inhibits next years' flowers.

But wait, there's more...In addition to the bright red adults, peek beneath your remaining lily leaves and remove every shiny red ova. While you're searching the undersides of the leaves, remove any small black sacks hanging from the leaf bottoms. Gloves are recommended for this part, as these are larva that have wrapped themselves in a cocoon of their own poop (a fecal shield). Ugh.

While snooping among your lilies, should you find any orange grubs with black heads, yup, you guessed it. Squash them.

If your lilies have been host to Red Lily Beetles, please don't share the plants. You will also be sharing the pests. Be vigilant and quickly remove adults, eggs and larva to rid yourself of these pests.

Take action now. Protect your lilies! You have a few choices to get rid of them. If you enjoy taking out your aggression on bugs, squish 'em hard. If you opt for a less violent and messy method, drop them into a bucket of soapy water with a shot of ammonia. Drowning seems like a less painful end.

A less hands-on approach is to use natural Neem oil (available at Woodbridge Greenhouses). It is a natural, effective, organic control.

Neem trees grow in the tropics. The trees’ nuts, leaves and bark have been used for pest control for generations. Neem Oil is a safe, broad-spectrum insecticide. It effectively controls Red Lily Beetles and other garden pests including spider mites, thrips, aphids, caterpillars and white-flies.

As with all products, please read the directions carefully. Neem oil is not effective on adult beetles; although, they are put off by the unpleasant odor and will move look for less pungent plants. To prevent their prolific population from resurfacing elsewhere in your garden, be sure to thoroughly spray the undersides of all the leaves. Neem Oil is most effective when applied directly to the larvae.

It is best to spray three successive weeks to address the coming generations.

Always spray in the early morning or late evening to minimize inadvertently spraying beneficial pollinators such as honey bees and ladybugs.

What is one to say about June,
the time of perfect young summer,
the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months,
and with as yet no sign to remind one
that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.
~Gertrude Jekyll