Give a vine a go.

Block sizes are getting smaller, houses are getting bigger… there’s barely enough room these days to squeeze down the side of the house with the wheelie bin, let alone plant a dense bushy screen to provide privacy from the neighbours.

So, if you’ve not got enough room to plant a normal screen, what can you do?

Here’s an idea …. put up a trellis, plant a selection of vines, and hey presto! … you’ve created a living, breathing, flowering, green fence.

Vines are hugely under-rated and under-utilised in our tropical gardens. Maybe it’s because people fear that they will grow so fast and so big that they will swallow you up, house and all. And mind you, that certainly can happen if you make a poor choice of species, as we can attest from our own first-hand experience of a Potato Vine (Faradaya splendida) which we planted near our house several years ago. It was well-behaved at first, which lulled us into a false sense of comfort. Then suddenly it took off and before we knew it, it had engulfed the TV antenna (no wonder our reception was a bit fuzzy), covered the roof and swallowed several large trees. Luckily the problem was easily fixed with a quick chop of the axe at ground level – cut off at it’s knees in one go. We are certainly not suggesting you plant a Potato Vine for privacy!

There are, however, several beautiful native vines that are totally manageable in a suburban situation. Here’s our favourite vines:

  • Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides)
  • Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandorana)
  • Native Jasmines (Jasminum aemulum, didymum, kajewskii and simplicifolium)
  • Roaring Meg Tecomanthe

And of these, our top favourite is the Roaring Meg Tecomanthe. This rare and spectacular vine (from Roaring Meg in the Daintree region) is one of the jewels of our Wet Tropics. It bears great big clusters of very showy, large pink tubular flowers which hang down from the stem. It looks fantastic over a trellis, and even better draped over a pergola where the flowers can hang down from the roof.

Back to the trellis… you don’t need to choose just one vine. Why not plant a few different types together. Let them inter-twine with each other, and enjoy the mixture of foliage and flowers. You’ll get a dense screen much quicker this way. And if the vines do start to get away on you, don’t be afraid to prune them back hard. Pruning is the best way to promote dense bushy foliage. (Just don’t plant a Potato Vine!)

See you at Yuruga, and happy gardening!
Peter and Ann