Oh grow up! That’s what I tell people who say they have no more room in their gardens. What I mean is vertical. To add another dimension to the garden I like to plant tall plants that stay narrow and get good height.
Besides giving you a little more room it also adds more interest not to have all the plants about the same height. An example is, in one bed I have a Rhamnus ‘Fine Line’, a Berberis ‘Helmond Pillar’ and Dahlia imperials. The foot print on each is only about 2 feet. All spread a little more toward the top but generally stay really narrow. The Rhamnus is a small deciduous tree with very narrow leaves and only reaches about 10 feet. The berberis also stays narrow with red foliage all summer, reaching about 8 feet. The Dahlia has larger compound leaves with the spread of about 4 feet and reaches 12 to 15 feet. Combined these plants compliment the shorter plants by providing a nice contrast and giving them all a little more interest. By lifting your eye up it makes this bed appear to be larger.
Another way to ‘Grow Up’ is by using vines. There seems to be an unlimited number of vines that can be added to the garden. The types I use most are roses, clematis, grape vines, wisteria and climbing hydrangeas.
I have a number of large Doug Firs with big, bare trunks. These trees look beautiful by themselves but they are also the perfect support for climbing hydrangeas. One tree had a Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris growing on it when we moved here 15 years ago so I planted 8 more, all different types. The flowers on them seem to last for months.
There were also a number a climbing roses here. Rosa ‘Kiftsgate’ goes up a Big Leaf Maple about 50 feet. There is also a Rosa blanda that arches over one side of the garage and another that arches over the gate that goes into the pasture. Besides lifting your eyes up, they also have multiple seasons of interest. We get flowers in early June and then late summer the rose-hips are just as showy.
Grape vines can also be used as an ornamental plant. We grow Vitis viniflora atropurpurea, the small purple leaf grape, over an arbor going into the vegetable garden. It does have small grapes but it’s best feature is amazing fall color. Another larger grape vine grown for fall color is Vitis coignetiae. We grow it on one side of the garage to mix with the Rosa blanda. I’m also trying to get it to grow up a Big Leaf Maple. At the Miller Garden I grew this up a Western Red Cedar. It reached about 50-60 feet and the red foliage was dramatic in the fall.
The most common vines to use in the garden are Clematis. I use some to grow up trellises and others to scramble through shrubs. The most eye catching one is Clematis tibetana ssp. tangutica. I grow this up the support to the deck on the back of the barn. It reaches about 15 feet and blooms from June until frost. Not only do you have the beautiful yellow blooms but also the attractive seed-heads. At this time of year you have both at the same time.
One of the more unusual vines, Fallopia aubertii ‘Lemon Lace’, we use to arch across the back side of the barn, creating a yellow waterfall, reaching up to the deck. it is a very vigorous vine but has become very dramatic on the barn.
Next time you feel like your garden needs a little something, ‘Grow Up’.