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Growing Up
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

June 25, 2006

Outdoor living is one of the greatest trends in decades, with decks, verandahs, patios and courtyards sprouting off houses everywhere. In urban areas, privacy is desirable for these sanctuaries and one way of obtaining it is to use plants. Hedges have long been used for this purpose. There’s a wide variety of deciduous and evergreen shrubs to choose from, in a good range of heights and widths. But what if the planting of a hedge isn’t feasible and you have to either erect a wall or grow something to fill in open fencing like rails or mesh?

In cases like these you have the option of planting perennial vines for permanent solutions, or annual vines which allow you to experiment with different varieties each year.

It’s possible to grow perennial vines in containers as long as you transfer them to a ‘holding area’ for the winter. This need only be a small plot of earth where the roots can be buried and mulched. The following spring you can lift them out of the ground, prune them and replant them in containers.

Perennial vines like wisteria, grapes and hops, grow rapidly and can be trained to provide a leafy arbour with dangling flowers and/or fruit. Some restaurants I’ve dined at in the past have this feature over their outside patios and the effect is marvelous.

English Ivy, Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper can also be grown and trained in different directions. Slow-growing the first few years, these vines begin to pick up speed after four to five years and can become a nuisance with their vigorous habit.

Clematis require some assistance in the form of a trellis, but they’re worth the effort as the flowers they produce can be stunning.

When it comes to annual vines, why not plant edible screens? This year I planted peas in April and the vines are now loaded with blooms and fattening pods. Scarlet runner beans were also planted and now beginning to climb . Soon there will be red flowers appearing and if I’m really lucky - hummingbirds. The blooms will be followed by long green beans that are great for snacking on.

Climbing nasturtiums become a riot of hot, bright colours by late July. Sweet peas will produce an abundance of blooms for cutting.

Whether you choose perennial vines or annual vines for the purpose of coverage, it’s important to feed them well. Alternate 20.20.20 water soluble fertilizer with the application of compost tea, kelp meal concentrate or fish fertilizer to provide your plants with well rounded meals.

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