My friend Jodi has a lovely home on a nice private lot. At least it was private until the lot next to her sold and they began construction. Now she has one of those dilemmas that face so many of those who choose a home without a lot of outside maintenance. (I can certainly understand someone not wanting to be tied to cutting and trimming and mowing since I have a husband who does not cut, trim or mow.)
What to do now, though, since the new home is going up fast? We have fast growing trees here, but most of them have a spread of branches that are not ideal for the smaller space. Too much shade can be a bad thing. The quick answer? Vertical gardening!
Most of us have done some vertical gardening, even if we never called it that. We have had a vine on a fence, a bougainvillea on a wall, or even tried our hands at an espaliered fruit tree. For now, though, let’s stick with that vine on a fence because that is exactly the solution my friend chose for her ‘I don’t want to look in their window’ problem. So, a reasonably tall fence is the answer to the problem. Fencing material isn’t an issue as it will be covered with vines very quickly and rendered invisible.
And what a selection of vines we have in the tropics! They are everywhere. From India, comes the genus thunbergia which includes the blue trumpet vine, fast growing to 24 meters (80 feet) and perfect for a fence, while the South American passion flower (passiflora) can be fence grown for about 15 meters (50 feet) for both flowers and fruit.
Speaking of fruit, we also have to remember that the vertical garden is perfect for both fruiting climbers and for vegetables. Easy climbing vegetables include peas and cucumbers as both are light weight. Heavier edibles like melons and squash require a sturdier fence and a fabric sling to keep them from falling from the vine before they ripen.
But back to our ‘hide the construction’ fence. Let’s choose a vine that does more than hide something; let’s choose one that provides food for local hummingbirds. Hummingbirds love tubular flowers in reds, yellows, and oranges. For them, a mandevilla (mandevilla) or an orange trumpet vine (pyrostegia) is an invitation to stay a while and enjoy lunch.
The few vines mentioned here are just a sample of the varieties we have to choose from in the tropics. But whether you choose them for color, for scent, for wildlife, or for growth habit, your vertical garden will be a wonderful addition to your landscape.