Tag Archives: vines

Clematis…the Most Versatile Vine!

Hot Pink ClematisI have a thing for flowering vines.  I’m not really sure why, but I’ve always loved the idea of an arbor or trellis covered in beautiful blooms.  I’ve grown climbing roses, wisteria, even gourds over a trellis, and they have all been spectacular.  However, for me, the best climber out there is the clematis.

My love affair with clematis started early.  My grandmother had a purple variety that covered her porch supports for years, and it was always a great performer.  So, as I got older, they were a likely pick for me.

Sure, clematis are easy on an arbor or something that has thin supports for the plant to spin its tendrils around, but many years ago, I was curious if they would work on something less plant friendly.  When I was in college, I decided to plant some sort of climber on Purple Clematismy parents’ clothes line supports.  They are wooden 4x4s, in the shape of a cross. They aren’t the most attractive supports, but they do serve their purpose.  I thought it would soften them a bit and also make an impressive display if I could grow a flowering climber up the supports.

I decided I would give the clematis a chance.  I planted one clematis right up against the base of each support (I think they were the Vagabond variety).  The biggest concern I had was, because they are 4x4s, it was too big for the clematis to wrap around.  I knew I would have to help them along until they reached the cross pieces and could support themselves.  That first year, I helped the vine grow by tying the branches around the clothes line support as it grew.  Unfortunately, that first year, it didn’t get large enough to reach the cross beam, but I kept Closer Viewhoping.  Also, unfortunately that first year, the guys who cut the lawn got a little too close with the weed whacker.  Luckily, the roots were still strong and they came back the following spring.

After putting a little fence around the bottom, and for a few years tying the branches and helping them up the posts, they finally got big enough to reach the cross beam.  One secret was I didn’t cut the clematis back in the fall or spring.  The new growth would sprout from the old wood, so it would very quickly reach the height I needed.  And the old growth also acted as a support for new shoot to cling to as they climbed the support.

As you can see, these clematis put on a nice display for my parents every spring.  And it took a while, but they were one of the most rewarding ventures I had when I started gardening on my own.  I think they still look great today!

Close Up

More Prep for the Yard and Garden…Painting Wrought Iron

One of the best things about having a porch, or arbor, or pergola, is to have beautiful things climb up the supports.  I just love climbers that cover a support with beautiful blooms.  It doesn’t matter to me if it’s wisteria, or clematis, or even gourds (I saw this years ago in a Martha Stewart Living magazine and had to do it, and it worked…they were awesome), I love the climbers.  And both my front and back porch have great wrought iron More Rustsupports in a traditional scroll pattern that are perfect to have these vines climb.  The only problem is, the flowers can put some extra wear and tear on the finish.  I’ll admit it, in all these years, I’ve never touched up the wrought iron with paint, but I couldn’t put it off any longer.

Because my supports have vines growing up them most of the spring, summer, and early fall, I had to get a jump-start on the painting.  I also had to wait until the weather was warm enough.  Lucky for me, this past weekend was perfect.  The weather was in the 60s, and, while the vines are growing, they haven’t hit the supports just yet.

RustAs you can see, the supports were looking pretty bad.  There were many places where the paint had completely come off, and there were some spots that had a good bit of rust.  I really shouldn’t have put off this project as long as I had, but I digress.  The first thing I did was got my supplies together.  I needed a good, durable paint, and, after consulting with my friends at Home Depot, decided on 1 quart of Rust-Oleum Stops Rust in flat black.  This is Rust-Oleuman oil-based paint, but I needed it to be oil-based for durability and because of the rust.  It’s pretty easy to deal with, but you need to use a paint thinner to clean the brushes, and yourself if you’re like me.  I just used some gasoline…I put some in a metal can for the brushes and rubbed some on my hands to get the paint off.  Maybe not the best idea, but it worked.  As for the color, the reason I went for flat is glossy paint shows more imperfections…and I figured I might end up with some Brushingimperfections!

To begin, I took a wire brush and metal Brillo pad (without soap) and knocked as much of the old paint off as I could.  The wire brush gets most of it off, and I used the pad for sections that I couldn’t quite reach.  You don’t need to take all of the old paint off, just everything that’s loose or flaking.  Once that was done, I wiped everything down with a damp towel and got started.

The paint was pretty easy to get on, and it covered really nicely.  I did use two types of brushes, one that was about an inch wide, and another that was much smaller for those Clematistight spots.  It also dried really well.  I didn’t do a full two coats, but I did spot check and touch up where needed.

I’m pretty happy with the finished result, and how well the vines are growing.  As you can see, the clematis is already stretching out to reach the trellis.  I just kept pushing it away until I was done the painting.  Now I can be nice and redirect it.

I’m pretty happy about how well the other flowers and trees are growing too.  Here are some pictures of what’s going on in the yard, outside of the climbers, so far this spring.

Daffodils are blooming like crazy.

Daffodils are blooming like crazy.

The magnolia tree is bursting with color.

The magnolia tree is bursting with color.

The apple trees have a lot of buds on them.

The apple trees have a lot of buds on them.

And the tree peonies are going to be great when they open up.

And the tree peonies are going to be great when they open up.