I have this fence line that follows along our long driveway, which ends at the beginning of our entrance to our vegetable garden. I have always wanted a fence line that was drooping with flowering vines and grapevines.
I got busy a number of years ago, and it has been paying off with the most beautiful display of color in the springtime. The vines that are growing on the fence line are native honeysuckle vines (Lonicera prolifera Yellow Vine Honeysuckle), which bloom with a light yellow colored flower. There is also one single orange domesticated honeysuckle vine at the very end of the fence line.
In normal years it has grown quite large and bloomed on and off throughout the growing season - until this one. It is suffering from a disease this year, and we might lose it.
While one suffers and will probably die, another or actually, quite a few are finally making up for their lack of doing much at all while they were literally sitting on the fence, so to speak.
Mixed in among the native honeysuckle vines are the vines of the Vitis riparia, also known as the river grape or river bank grape. This is a native woody perennial vine up to 50 feet long. It usually climbs trees, shrubs, or fence rows but will rise only one-half to two feet above the ground while sprawling in open areas.
The woody stems branch occasionally, and can become quite thick with shaggy bark toward the trunk. The small greenish-white or greenish-yellow flowers have five tiny petals, long exerted stamens and a fragrant musky scent.
Along with the tendrils, they occur in clusters opposite from the leaves, except every third one. The blooming period occurs during the late spring and lasts about two to three weeks. The flowers are replaced by fruits that develop during the summer. These are initially small and green but become three-eighths of an inch across at maturity during late summer or early fall. These mature fruits are purple or blue with a whitish bloom, each one containing two to four seeds.
They are usually sour, even when fully ripened. The preference is full sun to light shade and moist to slightly dry conditions. This plant is not particular about soil texture, which can contain significant amounts of loam, sand, or gravel.
This is the first year that we will actually be able to taste test the grapes from these plants. Even though it is a native plant in many areas, it is still a grape plant and somewhat touchy to its environment.
And yet, and finally, the last native climber that we have growing is Clematis virginiana or also known as Virgin's Bower. This is like the clematis plants that we grow that are all sorts of colors with a few exceptions.
It is very aggressive and will climb anything and sometime it seems overnight. It does have a wildly strange beauty to it because of the millions of tiny white flowers that it produces and produces for a very long time after which, then it follows up with these strange fluffy white seed heads which remain until frost kills the vine back to the ground.
It flowers during the time of the year that other vines have long since stopped flowering because of the heat July until frost. It is difficult to describe the seed heads and a quick Google should provide a photo or two for you.
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