Vines are probably the most versatile landscape plants around. No other plants can be used to create such a wide variety of effects.

Vines can soften and link architectural structures like arbors, fences, arches, and walls to the yards or gardens around them. They can also be used creatively to provide shade, privacy, flowers, ground cover, or fragrance.

I’ve seen vines described as lazy plants, because they have to rely on other plants or structures for support — but I’ve always thought of them as ambitious plants that will aim for the sky.

Here are a few creative uses of vines that caught my eye on a recent garden tour.

Swags of Ivy
A stone retaining wall that flanks a narrow driveway is festooned with swags of English ivy. Creative, no doubt, and lots of fun to discover as a visitor to this garden — but this effect would take way too much maintenance for me to be tempted to duplicate it at home!

Clematis Armandii
Garage doors are always a bit of an eyesore, but I love the way this planting of evergreen Clematis armandii softens the edges a bit. This type of clematis puts out a heavy flush of fragrant pink blooms in the spring.

Ficus Pumila on House

Wow! The entire facade of this home is covered with the creeping fig, Ficus pumila.

ficus pumilaThis is more commonly seen in cities like New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston, where creeping fig is more reliably hardy, than here in Atlanta where I snapped this shot.

Creeping fig is a rather cute plant, with tiny little leaves that remind me of mouse ears. You can see from the close up that there is also a variegated variety, with a narrow margin of white around the leaf edges.

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