The Rhodochiton atrosanguineum, or Purple Bell vine, a native of southwestern Mexico, is hardy to zone 9 and offers much to covet. Fast-growing, its glossy, heart-shape leaves contrast with cheery maroon flowers that have deep purple corollas and bloom all summer long. Purple Bell is easy to start from seed indoors in cooler climates. Once germinated, place it in the ground or a large pot with plenty of root space, in partial to full sun, and with a device for it to twine around. Then stand back, as it can grow to 10 feet in a season.
Here in the United States, many of us are familiar with sakura matsuri, or the cherry blossom festival that occur around the world during this time of year. But after the cherry blossoms fall, Japan has another beautiful floral celebration fuji matsuri, or the wisteria festival. Here are some photographs of the amazing wisteria tunnels that bloom in Japan, generally flowering from mid-April to mid-May.
With commentary by Oehme, van Sweden principal Eric Groft.
With its ample sprays of small, fragrant white blossoms and lustrous dark-green foliage, Clematis terniflora (also called virgin’s bower) is “a beautiful cascading vine that grows fast and blooms in August when all the Hamptonites are in their gardens.” If it gets out of bounds, it can take a hard pruning and will easily rebound.
Q: I had an arbor built over my deck and would like a vine to cover it. Would wisteria be a good choice? — Patty Schroeder, Cincinnati, OH
Q: I’m stumped by what to do with some badly neglected grapevines that came with our new home. Their supports are long gone, and they have been sprawling all over the ground for years in what I actually thought was a twig pile. I know the vines should be pruned, but I have no idea where to begin. — Kim Neumann, Erie, Colo.
Q: I want to use climbing vines or roses to create a “wall,” both on a chain-link fence and a series of trellises. I’m looking for something noninvasive that won’t choke out my perennials and veggies, and preferably with few or no flowers, so that it’s not so much a focal point as a fast-growing backdrop of green. — Suzanne Plunkett, Chicago, Ill.
Q: Which vine can grow on the north side of my house, which is bright but gets no direct sun? — Story Evans, Atlanta, Ga.
Q: I love wisteria but am having a hard time with it here in Minnesota. It’s not making much progress up my wooden arbor. — James A. Reider, White Bear Lake, Minn.