Thursday, May 24, 2012
Vines in the California Native garden
It's easy to put together a list of the Top Ten CA Native Perennials (or Annuals, or Trees), but when it comes to vines, we actually don't have too many choices. That said, the California native vines in my garden have been especially lovely this year, so I thought I'd show them off.
Above, Lonicera hispedula (hairy honeysuckle). This evergreen vine tends to be attacked by aphids, especially in the first years, but as it grows older, more flowers appear. In my garden, I'm growing one in sun and one in part shade, and both plants seem happy. Because this is a locally native plant, Ms. Country Mouse has done some propagation experiments; you can read this fun post here.
Clematis lasiantha (pipestem clematis) is slightly more challenging to grow because it goes winter dormant and, for me at least, summer dormant. But it's worth it because of the beautiful flowers and attractive fluffy seedheads. In my garden, Lonicera hispedula and Clematis lasiantha grow on the same trellis so the missing leaves in the summer are not a big problem.
The star climber in the shade is Aristolochia Californica (Calfornia dutchman's pipe).
In early spring, the flowers appear on the vines, still without leaves. But even when the leaves appear, I usually have plenty more flowers.
Over the summer, the vine attempts to spread. I seem to be able to prevent it from entering the garage, but sometimes it's a bit of a struggle. No matter, come fall Aristolochia starts changing color and eventually drops its leaves.
Then, in early spring, the cycle begins again.
This year, the Going Native Garden Tour T-shirt artist prepared an original watercolor of Aristolochia California for our volunteer T-shirts. You can get your own T-shirt with the same art from the GNGT CafePress store (different sizes, styles, and colors are available).
Vitis Californica offers a similar cycle of green to fall color. I still don't know what the Vitis in my garden is - the leaves turned dark plum the first year, and have faded to gold ever since.
I'm pretty sure it's not Roger's Red, a 50% native grape that cross bred with a European grape that had escaped into the wild. Roger's Red grows faster than my grape and displays stunning red leaves in the fall (here a photo I took at the Santa Barbara botanical garden).
But I'm very happy with my native grape and enjoy the colorful leaves and the grapes (for the birds) in the fall.
With relatively few native vines, many gardeners trellis some other plants for that extra bit of height. I've espaliered Lonicera involucrata (twinberry) along some wires and this year, for the first time, I'm being richly rewarded with beautiful blossoms, shown below (the twinberry with its red blossoms is in front of a ceanothus).
Here's a close-up.
I'm also training a Garrya elliptica (coast silk tassel) tree and I've heard of others training different native currents.
So, while I actually can't come up with a list of 10 vines, the vines I do have are all high on my list of favorites, and I hope they'll become more available in nurseries as more people enjoy the beauty and wildlife value of California native plants.