Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shortcut

My sister loves to take shortcuts.  No matter where she is driving, she knows a shortcut.  Sometimes she knows so many shortcuts, I think it takes us longer to get there than if we had just gone the regular route.

Well, that's kind of what happened to me.  I tried to take a shortcut, and in this instance it worked, but it's not the advised way to go.

You see, when I started gardening, I realized that nothing would live in our soil.  It was pure clay.  Brick almost.  What's a girl to do?  Amend is the regular route.  But I wanted a shortcut.


I really knew nothing about my crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) when I bought it, except it was a plant native to many southern states, including Texas.  It seemed to me that native plants that might grow in the naturally hard soil.  And I could skip a step.

Except for a few areas (which still includes where this vine is planted), my soil is nicely amended now.  But it took a long time to get it that way.  And miraculously, the crossvine turned out to be a beautiful shortcut.

Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)

If you want to try a crossvine, here's some thing you might want to know:
  • Sometimes it won't bloom until it reaches the top of the structure.  I had to wait a few years for mine to reach the top of the wall and start blooming, but its evergreen leaves were pretty to look at while I waited.
  • It attaches itself by little tendrils with sticky pads, so it will climb almost anything.  I put mine on a trellis to start it growing up the outside wall, but after it got the hang of it, it just took off.
  • It's a natural hummingbird magnet.
  • Evergreen, it grows in zones 6 through 9, up to 40 ft, in full sun to partial shade.
  • Blooms in spring, and again in fall.

Mine is allowed to just grow and hang down upon itself.  As it takes pruning easily, I've seen others train their crossvine neatly across their house, up an arbor, draping a gazebo, across the top of a fence, or climbing a tree.  It is said if you cut into the stem, you can see a cross sign, thus the name crossvine.

Versatile.  Tough.  Attracts hummingbirds.  Evergreen.  Easy.  An orange spectacle when it blooms.  My shortcut.

62 comments:

  1. Wasn't sure I knew the plant at first until I realized it's watch we call trumpet vine. Sure looks real pretty there.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. By looking at it, it does look very much like the trumpet vine. And even though it looks similar, I don't think it's the same one that you're thinking about. I could be wrong, but I've never heard this particular vine called trumpet vine. That's a different vine, although they are quite similar.

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  2. Oh how I wish we had this beauty here in the UK...and attracting Hummingbirds too...you have no idea how jealous I am...off to stroke the screen a while...sigh...xx

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    1. You have fabulous vines there in the UK. All those castles with vines running up the sides... wonderful!

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  3. Beautiful native....new to me up here in the cold North...sounds like my native honeysuckle...

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    1. Very close! This vine made me realize why the natives are so popular. They really are great plants to have in their own particular areas.

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  4. You know I was sure you were going to say that your shortcut didn't work - but wow it certainly did work. That vine is spectacular looking and it must be such a magnet for those hummingbirds.

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    1. I'm surprised anything could grow in that soil. Nothing else lives around this vine, not even weeds! I'm slowly getting the soil better there, though, so I can put some plants there that will live!

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  5. Now this is a plant that has everything; beauty and attracts hummingbirds too. I've not grown these here in California.

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    1. Not sure if it's a California native or not. It's not very easy to find in the nurseries, but it's becoming more popular as people start to plant more natives.

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  6. Prolific bloomer, and like you said, it grows pretty well here in CA, in fact it grows too well I think!

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    1. I would have thought that if it grew in Texas it would grow well in California. At least it's easy to prune!

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  7. I love this native vine, and it's pretty well behaved.

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    1. You're so right - it does behave well. Although, I suppose if it were grown in trees, it could take over a few!

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  8. Your Crossvine is very pretty, Holley... Looks like you found a great 'shortcut' that time... We take many shortcuts in our car which are NOT shortcuts at all... ha ha
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. haha - Just like my sister that takes a ton of shortcuts in her car! But I usually like her shortcuts because I get to see new places!

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  9. I don't think I have ever seen Crossvine in my zone 9b climate. It sounds like one that would do well here, too. Yours certainly looks happy!

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    1. I think you would love it, if you can find one. It should do very well there.

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  10. Thats a gorgeous one you've got there.

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    1. Thanks, Jess. I love seeing that wall covered in vine, instead of seeing just another brick wall.

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  11. I like crossvine. I even kind of like the scent of the flowers...in small doses. Your photos make me wish I had some in this garden.

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    1. I rarely get close enough to smell it! I'll have to do that today!

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  12. Your crossvine is gorgeous! The color is perfect against the brick. I am reminded that I need to find some beautiful vines for my own garden. Vines do seem to add a dimension that completes the garden.

    By the way, I have also enjoyed your previous few posts as I am catching up on my blogging. I am always behind!

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    1. I love seeing it every spring. It makes my heart sing!

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  14. As far as shortcuts go, this is definitely a lovely one!

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  15. As far as shortcuts go, this is definitely a lovely one!

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    1. Now that I know what good soil looks like, I'm amazed this plant lives in that hard-as-concrete soil!

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  16. My partner likes to take shortcuts - though they rarely are. Now when he announces one, I groan. A 'Jimmy Shortcut' is now acknowledged to be anything but! When you say the Crossvine (which I love btw) is a magnet for hummingbirds, will it attract them to Sussex? Perhaps not, sadly. Dave

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    1. haha - Jimmy Shortcut! I guess everyone knows a shortcut lover! :) As for attracting them to Sussex - now *that* would be an extraordinary vine!

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  17. So nice is a wall with Crossvines!

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    1. I agree. They're easy to pull down, too, unlike some clingers!

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  18. Ok I did not know that!!!! Really??? I am going to go cut mine and see! That is very cool. I love them. We have one planted on the front fence and it is huge- it is growing up into the tree out front as well and I just let it cause I think it's pretty. It is covered in blooms right now and yes, the hummingbirds love it. Great post and I can't wait to go cut it and see the cross!!!

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    1. I have never actually cut into the stems of mine - I guess I should! But that's what they say. I bet yours is gorgeous growing up a tree. I've always thought that would be a gorgeous sight.

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  19. I do love the kind of shortcut that means less work for everyone! This one sounds like a win-win all the way around. The trumpet vines that most people grow around here (Campsis or Bignonia radicans) aren't evergreen, which is their biggest drawback. (That and the root-sprouting.) The more native plants I grow the more I appreciate how willing they are to thrive in nasty conditions with no extra loving.

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    1. I've never grown the trumpet vines, as I've heard good and bad about them. I should grow more natives. They're not as easy to find, it seems. Which is a sad statement!

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  20. Much better than the shortcuts I tried to take when I first started gardening in this clay! I would try to dig a hole in the clay for just one plant - of course I ended up with a nicely dug little swimming pool that drowned whatever plant was there! Back to more amending..

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    1. I've done that too. But look at the bright side - all those little plants had good soil in their pots, and all that good soil is helping amend your soil! :)

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  21. I've seen this blooming all over Austin this spring - is this a particularly good year? I may have to try it, though I do not have clay. Yours is lovely!

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    1. It does seems like a good year for my vine, although it usually puts on a pretty good show. I bet it would grow in sand. It's definitely drought tolerant!

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  22. I love your crossvine. Very Cheerful! It is amazing how tall they can grow!

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    1. Isn't it? I love the way it covers this wall, but I never expected it to hang down almost the entire way, too!

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  23. Never heard of a crossvine before. I imagine it will be too tender here in the UK, and I know for sure it wouldn't attract any hummingbirds. Not that I'm jealous or anything. OK, yes I am.

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    1. I guess it's not available in the UK. I didn't realize that before, but it's not always easily found here, either.

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  24. Those a beautiful crossvines, a gardening friend is going to share a few cuttings with me soon. I'm glad to hear they grow almost anywhere since I have a very challenging yard here.

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    1. I think you'll love it. Good luck with your cuttings. I'd say if it grew in my unamended soil, it should be able to grow just about anywhere!

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  25. A beautiful shortcut indeed. It is such a lovely vine.

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    1. Gardening shortcuts usually end up in disaster. I am still amazed how bad the soil it there, and how it just keeps growing!

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  26. I want it, I want it, I want it. Clay? Tick. Zone 8? Tick. Evergreen? Tick. Beautiful flowers? Tick. Available here? Apparently yes, but they say Zones 9 to 13, so now I'm not sure. Do you know anyone growing it in colder areas?

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    1. The research I did said zones 6 through 9, and I do know some zone 7 gardeners that grow it. If you really want it, maybe try Lazy S's website (lazysfarm.com) - they have a few different ones there, and I've purchased plants from them before.

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  27. If a short cut keeps me moving and out of traffic, I don't care if it does take longer. I love cross vine and planted a seedling dug from a garden at work last year. I am glad to know it may take a while to bloom so I won't feel disappointed.

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    1. That's how my shortcut-taking sister feels - if she keeps moving, it doesn't matter about time! :) I hope your seedling does well. I don't know for sure that it won't bloom until it reaches the top, but I've heard that before, and it was true for me. It will be interesting to see if it's true for you, too!

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  28. Wow, what a great plant. I could see it in my garden! :)

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    1. Then I definitely think you should try it!

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  29. What a lovely vine & flowers!
    I don't mind using shotcut while in traffic too! ;)

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    1. Didn't realize there were so many shortcut takers! :)

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  30. Great feature Holley and researched that it would survive our Southern UK gardens- like the Catalpas do. Know all about not being able to take shortcuts with poor soil but your natural, native pioneer took you straight there with awesome beauty and effulgence.

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    1. The more I know about soil, the more amazed I am that this plant lived!

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  31. What a beautiful shortcut indeed! Your crossvine is gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, sweetbay. I could imagine it in your garden, too - climbing up trees and blooming orange against the sky.

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  32. Holley I'm always very unlucky with shortcuts but this time I must tell you you didn't take any! Using natives to solve problems in the garden isn't a shortcut at all! Indeed I see a very clever solution on what you did! Around here they grow a different variety of bignonia from yours but don't ask me which. I don't grow it because it's a plant you hardly get rid of if needed and it tends to scratch the plaster away from the wall of the house, I don't take this chance! Flowers are beautiful though!

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    1. I hadn't thought of it as a clever solution! But now I feel very smart! :) I've heard not to plant things directly on the walls, but I see it being done everywhere. I hope my wall doesn't come falling down!

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