Sunday, July 27, 2008 Up before the bees

As I am driving back from a mini vacation in my mini van, all I could think about was the big tasks waiting for me in the garden.  Vines are divine; however they have to be managed.  They have a tendency to get away from the gardener and many are not obedient.  For me, maintenance in the garden is not a chore; but as with anything, everything is relative.  As such, I know that at least once a year, around mid summer, I need to evaluate my vines and cut back if need be.  The best time to do this is first thing in the morning before the bees are up.


Of course, timing is vine dependent. For the Virginia creeper, it doesn’t matter if the bees are up or not since the bees are busying themselves on some pollen somewhere else in the garden.  For the porcelain vine (yes, I have this everywhere in my garden, some I keep a little of, the rest I pull as soon as I see the distinctive leaf shape.)  On this day, my vine maintenance day, I needed to be up before the bees to go after the porcelain vine before the bees began their day.


Last year, I took my kids to Spain for the month of July.  I did the best I could to prepared my garden to be gone for a month, particularly this mid summer month when the vines are most active.  When we returned, the porcelain vine, which had managed to be controlled when I was home, COMPLETELY covered the back half of my huge fig tree.  While I hated to take away the bees’ pollen source, I also needed my fig tree to survive.


Having neglected my garden this summer, I had to again go to work on the porcelain vine.  But also, the Virginia creeper, passion flower, and English ivy; if I had any energy left, I would have trimmed the cross vine as well.  The climbing hydrangea, Confederate jasmine, Carolina jessamine, honeysuckles, and creeping fig were doing fine.  Surprisingly, so was the autumn clematis.  I’m thinking that I must have trimmed it back early this year, so it is not as aggressive as it might otherwise have been for late July.  I also do my usual look out for poison ivy.  What may be good for the wildlife is not good for me.  I do not tolerate poison ivy in my garden.


After 3 hours and 7 yard waste cans full, I have tamed my vines once again.  I suppose there will be a day when vine maintenance will not be something I enjoy.  At that time, I will not stop when I am pulling and trimming to maintain…someday I will pull and trim and take it out roots and all…someday the garden will have to take care of herself.  Someday, my garden will be relative to what I’m capable of caring for.   For the porcelain vine, that someday will be this fall.  I think it is time to say goodbye to this beautiful fall berry.  This fall, when the fig drops her leaves, I will find the mother root of the vine and take her out.   


Helen Yoest



  1. nhnursery said

    Vine maintenance can take some time but I can’t imagine a garden without at least one type of vine planted.

  2. gardensgardens said

    I agree! Thanks for the feedback and your reference reminded to go check on my Akebia…another great vine I have in heavy shade. The shade seens to keep it in check.


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