Native Vines Blooming in the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden

by Certified Master Gardener, Judy Funderburk

Ever since Arlington’s Invasive Plant Coordinator, Jenn Truong, asked us to take out the beautiful scented, evergreen, fall-blooming and often-called native and very invasive sweet autumn clematis vine (Clematis terniflora) on our back fence, we have been trying out new vines to cover the chain link and provide teaching tools for residents who want something other than invasive sweet autumn or Japanese honeysuckle to cover fences. [There is often confusion between sweet autumn, which is actually a Japanese import, and virgin’s bower (Clematis virginiana), which is native. The leaves of these two vines are very different. Sweet autumn is usually five-leafed and not toothed; virgin’s bower’s leaf is broader, usually three-leafed, ovate and toothed.]

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina Jessamine) © Mary Free

Here are some of the native vines that are doing well in the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden and are beautiful, showy, scented, and some semi- or evergreen.

Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) was in full bloom from the end of March into mid-April this year, covering the archway entrance into the Library Garden with yellow fragrant flowers and evergreen foliage. Mary Free’s photo captured its twirling nature with her picture of the jessamine performing a delightful dance around our resident rooster (metal sculpture) on the back fence.

Lonicera x heckrottii ‘Gold Flame’ © Mary Free

At the same time, honeysuckle gold flame (Lonicera x heckrottii) was twirling and putting out its clove-scented magenta/orange blossoms on the light pole in the back garden. Some summers we have had problems with aphids and powdery mildew on this vine.

Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’ © Mary Free

Honeysuckle ‘John Clayton’ (Lonicera sempervirens), another native evergreen vine, was not to be outdone. At the end of March, it began blooming on the back fence and will continue throughout the summer, giving us slightly fragrant yellow tubular flowers plus, in late summer, red-orange fruits for a dash of additional color.

Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine)

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) sported her first flowers on April 17. This was exciting as they were the first blooms ever from a vine that was planted three years ago. Showy two-inch long trumpets that are reddish maroon on the outside with five yellow flaring lobes on the inside of each flower entice pollinators to enter.

The common name refers to the cross-shaped pattern revealed when the stem is cut.

American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) ‘Longwood Purple’ is a gorgeous alternative to the very aggressive Japanese and Chinese wisterias commonly grown in the U.S. Native to the southeastern states, ‘Longwood Purple’ has indescribably beautiful flower pods followed by dense clusters of lightly scented blue-purple blooms which last for several weeks.

Wisteria frutescens (American Wisteria)              Photo by J. Vic Funderburk

The Asian varieties are invasive with dense, hard-to-eradicate root systems that take over native plants in our parks and woodlands. Neighbors have spent many hours trying to eradicate the Japanese wisteria from Glencarlyn’s parklands.

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