Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Almost Arbor Update

Blame it on the bunnies but I can't decide whether I should be horrified or happy. Last spring I built a funky metal arbor out of odds and ends I found at our local hardware store. My master plan involved growing annual cypress vines up the arbor to woo the hummingbirds and make my neighbors jealous. It didn't work. By mid-June those cute, fuzzy demons of plant death had chomped them off at ground level. They didn't even stick around to eat what they had slaughtered. They just chomped and ran.


Life at the Casa


Cypress Vine

I fumed and stomped but with a vacation on the horizon, I decided to just ignore the carnage and put my faith in the beans growing up the other side. But when I returned in July, the wimpy beans had barely grown in our freakishly cool, soggy weather. Determined to have something growing up my arbor I rushed to our local nursery, bought the first plant with arbor covering potential, and stuffed it in the ground surrounded by a ragged bunny barricade. It grew.


In three months my Mint Crisp honeysuckle grew seven feet. If it continues this rate of growth, I can expect ten more feet of delicious vanilla scented flowering vine to erupt next summer. I'm not sure whether to be excited or slightly terrified.


'Mint Crisp' honeysuckle leaves has variegated leaves and white vanilla scented flowers. It can reach 30 feet tall. I may have ignored that fact when I purchased it.


These just might be tears of happiness...

51 comments:

  1. I am despairing of my wimpy little Banksia rose, struggling on an arch in a neglected corner. The Ipomea might be just what I need.Hmm...

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    1. The cypress vine was very easy to grow from seed. I've read they can be invasive but not here!

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  2. I planted a pair. Jasmine and clematis. At the same time. The jasmine has done what I wanted them to, covered the evil green rain water tank. The clematis, is still, about the size of my hand. It wants cool roots, but won't grow enough leaves to make shade - and in the meantime the jasmine is going for world dominion.

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    1. Jasmine is beautiful but aggressive. Clematis want moist, very rich soil and often need afternoon shade in warm climates. It does sound like a fabulous combination, though!

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  3. Tears of happiness due to plant joy. I know the feeling, plus the bitter tears caused by the furry and feathered critters who nibble my tender plants.

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    1. Rabbits did a lot of damage this year. I have a bunny proofing plan that I'm going to start working on soon. They can go eat someone else's yard!

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  4. Well, fortunately, honeysuckles can be pruned hard and tamed well - you just have to keep snipping at it. You might even get flowering several times a year that way. I grow an evergreen honesuckle as a Bonsai tree, it is 10 years old and about 8" tall, the mother plant I got the cutting from was probably 20' tall and 10' wide. Mine smells like apples but a vanilla scented one sounds lovely!

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    1. A honeysuckle bonsai that smells like apples? WOW! I didn't know honeysuckle could be trained as a bonsai. I have a feeling this honeysuckle is going to get to know my pruners on a regular basis. But I can hardly wait for it to cover the arch. :o)

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  5. I put a new metal arch at the entrance to my arbor garden, and I have had the hardest time getting something to grow! I think I am ready to try something aggressive. A pretty honeysuckle may be the solution. I have never seen one with variegated leaves! Yours should be wonderful once it fills in.

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    1. I hadn't seen a variegated honeysuckle, either. It's evergreen for me in zone 7A but it's the fragrant, creamy white flowers that were one of the selling points. I love anything fragrant. Fortunately, my neighbors are excited about having it grow on their new fence since it's already started to wrap around the wooden beams.

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  6. I'm glad for your successful vine! I'm waiting for to see how it'll look like next summer. Happy New Year 2014, Tammy!

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  7. It's pretty and a tough vine that you don't have to coax along should work out well if it's not too heavy. I'm glad you posted this since I had wondered about the arch and how it worked for you.

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    1. I love my arch. I also love that it only cost $25 to make. :o) I think it will be fabulous once the honeysuckle has taken over. If it gets too heavy, I can just prune it to keep the top from getting too woody. I pruned my massive trumpet creeper into compliance so I have a plan for the Mint Crisp, too.

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  8. For goodness sake do not fertilise that honeysuckle ! definitely terrifying if you do !
    Happy new year

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  9. Is 'Mint Crisp' a Lonicera sempervirens? I'm guessing not because it is fragrant. I always ignore the ultimate size of plants I buy! I figure I can trick or intimidate them into staying a manageable size.

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    1. It's the evil lonicera japonica but it's planted in a spot where it can't escape into the wild. I can use a ladder to remove the berries as it grows bigger. I have a 'wild' honeysuckle that grows along the fence between me and my neighbor but it's not that big and is incredibly well behaved. I read one website that says it will grow to 10 ft while another predicts 30 feet. My money's with 30 feet!

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  10. Dang rabbits! Looks like you have the situation under control now, though. ;-) I can't wait to see the photos next growing season!

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    1. Me, too! Hopefully, I'll have more honeysuckle and less metal showing.

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  11. The scent and the pretty variegated leaves intrigue me -- I googled Mint Crisp and the pictures show a huge, huge vine. You have a robust grower on your arbor! Your wonderfully creative hardware store art project is going to disappear under the honeysuckle, but it really is a gorgeous plant.

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    1. Yep, it's going to be a beast! I just hope the metal rods are up for a challenge. :o)

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  12. Well, you'll either love it or hate it. And if you love it but it grows too big you could always build a bigger arbor or plant it along a chain link fence like I've done with mine. (Hall's Honeysuckle) The Cypress vine is pretty too. I grew it years ago but I think I might need to grow it again next year. ... Thank you for your encouragement on my plants. Hopefully we're done with the really cold stuff. Happy New Year!

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    1. The cypress vine was so easy to grow from seed. I want to grow it again. I'm just running out of room. If the honeysuckle grows too big I may have to garden mafia-style and whack it!

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  13. I have been wanting a honeysuckle - I've never heard of Mint Crisp! What an intriguing name! Delicious vanilla scent - I would be thrilled!

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    1. A much smaller one to consider is 'Harlequin'. It likes afternoon shade and only grows to about 10 ft. I've been torturing one in a pot on my patio for the past 2 summers and finally moved it to a sweet spot under a river birch. It's also fragrant and has white and pink markings on its leaves.

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  14. I hope you had a great holiday hiatus, Tammy. I've never heard of 'Mint Crisp' honeysuckle - I'll look forward to seeing it in bloom. You are going to offer a smell-able version of your post, aren't you? I love honeysuckle but its vigor is just a bit scary.

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    1. I needed a break. I just had too much going on. If blogs were smellable, I'd have my nose stuck to the monitor screen most of the time. :o) I think my climate helps keep honeysuckle under control. But I wouldn't plant it in CA, either unless I lived in the Sierra's.

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  15. I'm a honeysuckle fan. The porch on my childhood home was swathed in it. I googled the house just this week and some philistine has removed both the honeysuckle and the porch. On my next visit home I will be tracking the villian down. Meanwhile your honeysuckle reminds me of Audrey in the Little Shop of Horrors. I sense we will be reading lurid reports once the growing season starts.

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    1. It is very Audrey-like! If it wants human flesh instead of soil, I'm doomed. A friend of mine in upstate NY told me to avoid driving past my old house if I ever came back to visit. The new owners painted it a weird blue and neglected the garden. I could handle the blue, but the garden? Now that hurts!

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  16. You planted Japanese honeysuckle on that little arbor (dissolves into laughter)? :) :) No worries, I've done stuff like that too, and will again. You'll work it out. Enjoy the delicious fragrance!!

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    1. Hmmm... Me thinks I need to reinforce the arbor!

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  17. Your posts are so funny - and you are a resourceful girl. I might attempt to build an arbor like yours (you have not patented the design have you?) I am of the gardening school that thinks if it grows leave it alone. If it gets too big, you cross that bridge when you get to it. In the mean time enjoy your mint crisp. I wish I had this problem with my honeysuckle Major Wheeler who grows only about a foot every year.

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    1. I think your honeysuckle has been poorly named. Maybe you took home Private Wheeler instead of the Major. ;o) I absolutely assure you all of my designs are FREE!! It was super cheap and easy to squish into small spaces.

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  18. Vanilla scented flowers.....sounds like my kind of vine. Thirty feet seems like a Jack and the Beanstalk wannabe.......

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    1. As long as no giants climb down the arbor, it's all good. :o)

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  19. Mint Scented Honeysuckle sounds intriguing, like a Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavor! I think you made a good choice.

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    1. I agree! I can't eat ice cream but I'd be willing to risk a stomach ache for a few bites of that one.

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  20. The fragrance sounds delightful and you can always prune honeysuckle if it gets too wild. Welcome back from your hiatus!

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    1. Thanks! I think this vine will keep my pruners busy.

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  21. Nice to see you back. I don't think you should be allowed to type words like.....wooing the hummingbirds....it just makes ME green with envy....Oh to have such miraculous little shimmering creatures!!!! Sighs.....
    What NAUGHTY rabbits, how dare they not eat the remains....but now you have a delightful triffid on your hands! I loved the cartoons....says she with tears of laughter seeping through her thick silky black lashes!!! xxx

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    1. It does look like a Triffid!! This vine may have bad sci-fi movie written all over it by the end of next summer. It's a shame the UK doesn't have hummingbirds but we don't have adorable hedgehogs, either. The closest we come is a big porcupine, which is like a hedgehog on steroids, except not as cute.

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  22. Welcome back, Tammy! I love the look of that Mint Crisp and have put it on my list. Like a few others here, I most ignore height and spread notes on tags and just hope for survival. If a plant turns beastly, I have my ways (MWAA HA HA HA)! I'll have my fingers crossed for you.

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    1. If it smells half as fabulous as is reported, I may just let it eat the house. :o)

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  23. Rock on! This one sounds like a winner and those leaves are gorgeous! If only everything in my garden would grow like that I would be one happy lady! Thanks for the comedic bits as well...they always put a smile on my face! You are great!!!!!! I can't wait to see pictures this season! Wishing you a very Happy New Year!!!! Nicole

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    1. I have some plants that need a pep talk from the honeysuckle, too. Maybe I can set up a botanical therapy business on the side. :o)

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  24. I'm looking forward to hearing about your bunny proofing plan. Perhaps you are going to make a maze of mint crisp and trap them in it?

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  25. LOL, the best learning experiences come from buying plants without reading (or purposefully ignoring) the label. Can't wait to see how far that honeysuckle decides to grow.

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    1. I think I may find it has its head on my pillow someday. :o)

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  26. I bought a Sweet Autumn Clematis last summer despite the fact that I read it can grow like made and really take over. If it turns out to be true we may have to form a mutual support group when your 'Mint Crisp' honeysuckle takes off.

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