Thursday, October 6, 2011

Know thy Vines

    Bittersweet Berries
    Twisting, turning vines come in all shapes and sizes. Fall is a good time to evaluate the vines on your property and remove poisonous and invasive vines.

    Morning Glory

    Hairy Poison Ivy Vine

      Tree Choked by Bittersweet Vine
    • Bittersweet is an invasive plant that often chokes out native plants, overtakes nearby shrubs and strangles young trees. With it's distinctive orange and yellow berries, it's easy to identify this time of year.  As pretty as the berries are, they spread this invasive species. Cut down the vines now, save the berries for decorations. Not to worry, the birds will find better food sources.
      • Trumpet Vine
      • 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 trimmed their Trumpet Vine back to the same height each, developing a thick, tree-like trunk, so that each summer it branches out like a topiary or large bonsai tree. Neatly kept in check, Trumpet Vine is a glorious sight in bloom.
      • Grape Vines are woody with a papery bark that easily climb trees reaching 30'. The clusters of grapes are very important for local wildlife, including blue birds, cat birds, mocking birds, robins, Baltimore orioles, blue jays, juncos and purple finch to name a few. Some birds even use the papery bark when building their nests. White-tail deer will eat the leaves and stems, but haven't done any major damage to our vines. I've read that people seldom eat them since wild grapes grow high in tree tops and are small and bitter. 
      • Wild Grape Vines
        • Poison Ivy and Poison Oak are easily confused. Since they look similar and cause similar rashes. Removal options:
            • Never burn poison ivy since inhaling the smoke can make people very ill.
              • You can physically remove the plant or cut it back so severely that it never grows back. I have had success with this by putting my hand inside a plastic bag. When I pulled out the vine, I could easily stuff it into the bag before tossing it into the trash.  Wearing protective clothes, safety glasses and gloves is key whenever tackling poison ivy. Cutting it back to the ground is another option. 

              • Poison Ivy
                • Find someone with hungry goats. They will eat poison ivy, just check that nearby plants are safe the goats, too, as they will eat everything they can reach.
                  • Spraying with a broadleaf herbicide risks killing nearby plants, but if your have no other alternatives, it is very effective. We have resorted to herbicides for poison ivy and found that our ground cover is not affected by the spray. Be sure to follow the product's instructions carefully. 
                    Virginia Creeper
                  • Virginia creeper can be identified by its deep red autumn color. Like grape vines and ivies, it climbs trees, poles and buildings. While bittersweet often strangles the plants it grows on, Virginia creeper sometimes kills its supports by blocking out the sun entirely. Like its relative, Boston ivy, it can adhere to walls and shade buildings and should be cut at the base prior to removal to prevent damaging the masonry. Warning: Virginia creeper's small dark purplish berries contain an acid that is moderately toxic to humans and other mammals, but it does provide an important winter food source for birds.
                  My favorite flowering vine, Morning Glory, is still blooming into October. They are fun to grow, easy to propogate (seed) and beautiful. They grow so quickly that they make a nice summertime screen and can be trained to grow on trellises

                  Whether your vines are ornamental, native or other, Twisting, turning vines come in all shapes and sizes. Fall is a good time to evaluate the vines on your property and remove poisonous and invasive vines.
                    Trumpet Vine reaching top of utility pole.
                    "There is no season when

                    such pleasant and sunny spots

                    may be lighted on,

                    and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings,

                    as now in October." 

                    - Nathaniel Hawthorne
                    Woodbridge Greenhouses

                    will be Closed

                    Monday, October 10th

                     "The clump of maples on the hill,
                    And this one near the door,
                    Seem redder, quite a lot, this year
                    Than last, or year before;
                    I wonder if it's jest because
                    I Love the Old State more!"

                                                      - David L. Cady, October in Vermont

                    Autumn Gardening

                    While visiting with Deb last week, a client called with questions about transplanting a large plant. Surprisingly, she advised that very early spring (when the ground is first diggable and wet) is the best time to transplant very large shrubs.

                    Since I had always believed that fall is the best time to transplant, Debbie's advice will have me out in March transplanting a large hydrangea. For smaller plants and shrubs that need transplanting now follow these steps for the best results:

                    Prepare the hole well: Dig the hole twice as large as the root ball and give the roots a treat by amending the soil with composted manure.

                    The trick to fall transplants is water. Follow this schedule for best results:
                    • Water daily for two weeks.
                    • A deep layer of mulch will provide needed protection during the cold winter.
                    • Water weekly until hard frost.

                    "October is nature's funeral month.

                    Nature glories in death more than in life.

                    The month of departure
                    is more beautiful than the month of coming
                    - October than May.

                    Every green thing
                    loves to die in bright colors."

                    - Henry Ward Beecher