Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Devil or angel?

This photograph was taken (with permission) on an Atlanta street where I travel often.  I've loved watching this vine, Campsis x tagliabuana 'Madame Galen', as it climbed up a telephone pole and mushroomed out.  Then, the resident (a keen gardner and talented flower arranger/party planner) took the vine across the sidewalk to form a sort of arch connecting to her yard. 

I've long adored the native orange trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) that grows in the countryside around my hometown.  In the mid 80's I visited a chateau in the Loire Valley with my ALTA tennis team (one member was a part owner).  Clambering over an ancient stone wall was our humble trumpet vine from the Southeastern U.S.  It was absolutely charming.

About 25 years ago, I built a sort of tunnel at the back of my house.  It was formed by a stone wall at seating height with iron arches coming out of the stone and hooking onto a wall of a concrete terrace that's around 44 feet long (I copied this simple design from a newspaper clipping of a restaurant in the Perigord region of France).

I first planted a wisteria called 'Plena' with double blooms.  I might as well have planted kudzu (although I consider wisteria more vicious than kudzu).  The double purple blooms only came on the vine after the leaves had emerged and thus got caught in the foliage, so you didn't get that pendulous display of flowers.  I finally had to cut the thug down.  It threatened to pull down the iron arches.

On a trip to New York, I saw the yellow form of trumpet vine cascading down from a West Village apartment.  I knew instantly that's what I wanted for my tunnel.  Today, I have a shady walkway, and Campsis radicans 'Flava' produces apricot yellow blooms.  On another terrace covered with iron arches, I have a dark red form of the native vine.  Hummingbirds go crazy over it.

But back to 'Madame Galen'.  People who have this vine (a cross between our native campsis and a Chinese form) say it's magnificent, but it can run about and destroy swimming pool liners and such.  If you can keep it under control, this is such a good summer vine for covering a pergola.  I also noticed one of my Facebook friends and a great gardener had trained it as a tree.  'Madame Galen' has larger flowers than the native campsis; the color is salmon orange with a hint of apricot.

 Here in Atlanta, the peak bloom is at the end of June into early July, but flowers appear sporadically all summer.  Just last night, I noticed the 'Mme. Galen' pictured above (please ignore my hand in the photo) was still blooming pretty well.  If you can keep her under control, she's a great summer beauty to have around.