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Thursday, September 17, 2009


The cultivated varieties of morning glories are annuals here, unlike their behavior in other more temperate zones where they are an invasive, despised pest living forever. With the first frost my 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories will be gone. I would like to share them before that happens.

First I would like to show the ones halfway down the hill. They are growing on fencing that was installed to support flowering sweet pea vines. That reminds me, - please forgive a minor rant halfway through this sentence - we used to call green peas (the kind one shells out) English Peas, but the past few years I've noticed the canned ones on the grocers' shelves are labeled "sweet peas"(!), and because sweet pea seeds are poisonous, I think that is dangerous. What if a young, new to gardening person who has no mentor grows sweet peas (the flower), then lets them go to seed and cooks them! (Rant over, but you can understand the danger there.)

OK, I will get back to morning glories in a minute, but that rant reminded me of an amusing incident involving one of my young helpers. He had worked here several years, and I had watched him mature, graduate from the local university, start up his own landscaping business, listened to all his dating, girlfriend, love-life stories, then saw him move into a quiet, serious relationship. (When he quit sharing that type of conversation, I knew this one was serious.) One day he was back helping with something, and noticed the English Peas growing on the tomato cage needed picking, and asked if he could take them home with him. I said, "Sure."

The next time he was here, he said they cooked the peas, but those shells were really tough! Then I realized, those young people were probably used to Sugar Snap Peas which had been around all their young lives. I had never realized he was not knowledgeable about the old fashioned English Peas. It was all I could do to keep a straight face while I explained the difference. Did that ever make me feel old!

Oh, yes, I promised flowers. Here, halfway down the hill they can be seen before they flowered. From the foreground the fencing runs back several feet, then turns to the right. You can see that there are more vines at the far end: upper right quadrant at the edge of the photo. Then it looked as if "morning" has broken.
In the next photo, morning glories are shown with iron-weed in flower. This photo shows the iron-weed's color nearer correct than the next photo which has a shadow in it.
Moving slightly to the right.
Around and down.
Now, let's go to the front porch. It is a small one so it was not easy to get far enough back for a few photo shots. What you are seeing here is a wild grapevine climbing the post and railing, with morning glory vines mixed in (before they bloomed).
This year there was too much grapevine, so the morning glories did not do as well. I had pruned 2 or 3 times taking off about half the grapevine, but it still grew too fast and was just too much. This winter the grapevine is going to get a serious chop almost to the ground. In years past they showed much better with less grapevine.

One year we were having some roof work done, and everyday the men wanted to sit on the front steps to eat their lunch even though I offered them the chairs in the back yard. They said they wanted to sit there beside those pretty blue flowers and wanted to know what they were. The oldest man said he wanted to get some seeds for "Mama". I think he meant his wife, not his mother, for some men call their wives Mother or Mama. Later, I mailed him three packets of seeds, and told him to share with the other two men. Several months later he came back to check on something for me. I asked if he received the seeds. He said he had, and his wife asked, "Who's sending you flowers!"

The first year or two, I planted the seeds directly in the ground, but the English Ivy was stronger, and more aggressive than I. I remembered seeing an item in the attic that the previous owner had left. It is a metal box with metal screen bottom. I retrieved it, set it on the ground, loaded it with potting mix laced with moisture retaining granules, stuck in a few sticks, then planted seeds. It didn't take long for the vines to start up the stakes after a little gentle help. The stakes led them into the grapevine, then up they traveled.
Meanwhile, on the porch two large clay pots were planted with seedlings from the work area. I gave them a little help to send them in the correct direction.

One peeking back.

Now turning toward steps.
You might notice that vines grow in, and on, the steps. When we moved here, Mary had English Ivy trained across at the bottom of every riser. It was trimmed and looked pretty. Then over the years when my head was turned people "cleaned up that ivy on the front steps"! Sometimes it was Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer, and sometimes well meaning helpers who had no training or natural sense of aesthetics. I do not weep easily, but inside I was hurting and weeping.

As a result, I have almost bodily waged a defense of the Small-Leaf Maple-leaf Ivy that is left. Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer has pulled it out twice. Helpers did so least once or twice. Considering that it is a very weak-growing, gentle plant I was afraid it was gone for good. It took a long time each time, but it is back for now. I cannot micro-manage every other person who sets foot on this place. I decided to try to keep the English Ivy off as a way to defend the delicate one.

I will post a few photos of the steps, then a few close ups of the delicate ivy.
Left to Right

I took the following closeups, and they are a bit blurred, sorry; I have a slight tremor. To give you an idea of the scale, those are dry dogwood tree leaves. They are not very large leaves. The closeups will allow you to see the pretty shape of the dainty, little leaves of that vine.
Backing away from the steps through the New England Asters.
Backing away.

Those red berries on the left are the fruit on a dogwood tree. It makes for a colorful area. You may have to click on the photo to be able to see the color well enough to enjoy it.
How beautiful is "blue"?!


our friend Ben said...

How lovely, Barbee'! Your morning glories really are heavenly, and of course I loved the story about the man's wife. And that exquisite little ivy! I'd always heard of shelled peas referred to as green or garden peas, to distinguish them from snap and snow peas, so I'm horrified to think that they're being called sweet peas now. You raise a very serious point here. Thanks!!!

inadvertent farmer said...

I would have cried...big buckets of tears, then I would have yelled at someone!!!

I absolutely adore morning glories...thanks for sharing yours! Kim

Barbee' said...

our friend Ben, thank you! Maybe I should start calling them something like that, too. I just learned from my parents. In their garden they had what they called English peas, and Irish potatoes. Back then there was no such thing as Sugar Snap peas, and they had never heard of snow peas.

inadvertent farmer, Thank you, Kim. I surely felt like doing that, but some days I just feel so defeated. I'm glad you enjoyed the morning glories. That fencing run was going to be empty this year, so I just took the rest of the M.Glory seeds down there and stuck them in the ground. Last time it was covered with string beans. Judging by the massive amount of M.G. vine, the beans must have fixed plenty of nitrogen.

lynn'sgarden said...

A favorite vine for me, this Heavenly Blue. The ones I planted in the spring had sporadic blooms but stayed green thru the summer and now with the cooler temps, they're budding again...yippee! Lovely, lovely pics, Barbee!

Barbee' said...

Hi Lynn, seems your morning glories are enjoying the cooler weather along with you! I love the cooler perkiness, too. Thank you, your photos are lovely, too, and you have an interesting assortment of plants.

Anonymous said...

Your morning glories are so pretty, and remind me to grow them next year. It's been years since I have! Actually, I did plant chocolate morning glories this year, but they are a poor substitute for the real thing. And I really like that small leaved ivy growing on the steps. Great idea.

Balisha said...

This post reminds me of the hymn "Morning has Broken" What a lovely shade of blue they are.

Barbee' said...

Msrobin, chocolate colored flowers are so popular now. I really like them, but I seem to stay with the old fashioned plants. Glad you enjoyed your visit and found something of interest to you.

Good morning Balisha, that hymn is exactly what was going through my mind when I wrote that. How perceptive you are!

Meadowview Thymes said...

I can't believe my eyes Barbee! Those glories are the prettiest I have ever seen. Do they re-seed? I guess probably all do. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous pictures--they made my day!!! :)

Barbee' said...

Meadowview Thymes, yours are beautiful, too. I have never noticed much if any reseeding. Maybe they got weeded. A joke on me: This spring I bought the pack of seeds as usual and started them in pots. Later, going through some old seeds I found a few in a plastic zip bag with no label. (I'm bad about that.) I thought, "They sure do look familiar". I planted them in some pots, and when they came up, guess what they were... morning glories. Apparently I had gathered seeds one year, then forgot that I did. I am glad you enjoyed the photos. Thank you.

Titania said...

Hi Barbie, I do love the heavenly blue Morning-glory. You are right in my warm climate they are a pest viewed from the botanist's conservationist's eyes, as they climb up any tree and choke it. I do not say it loud, but I always enjoy seeing one peeping out of the scrub, winking at me "I have got away!" I lover all the different coloured Morning glories but naturally the nurseries do not stock them anymore. Yours growing on the fence is gorgeous. I also enjoyed the stories, life in the garden brings about.

Barbee' said...

Hi Titania, it is so good to hear from you. Why is it we sometimes have a soft feeling for a renegade plant. I would enjoy seeing a cheeky one, too.

I am so glad you enjoyed the post. I had the idea for quite some time, then when I started it, I kept thinking of more things to put in. I fear the post is way, way too long. I have trouble choosing just one or two photos when I have so many pretty ones.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Barbee girl I am ready to call you the Queen of Vines !
That was awesome ! .. I have had bad luck with morning glory for some reason .. I had tried Moon flower for two years and have been so disappointed .. then what was called chocolate morning glory was a purple/fuchsia? colour .. another disappointment .. so I will have to admire yours girl : )
PS ... they have just found evidence of that wicked "kudzu" vine in Ontario .. yuck !!

Barbee' said...

Hi Joy, Oh, NO, kudzu in Ontario! How in the world did it find its way all the way from the southern states up there to that beautiful region. Yuck is right! Thanks for the positive feedback. I hope to try Moon flower next year. I have never grown it. Thanks for coming by.

quu said...

I really really need to have blue garden as well. Dazzling blue, I say! Wow! :)

Barbee' said...

quu, I think blue gardens are rather popular. I once Googled blue gardens and read about several. I think collections are fun, but so far all I have is a mix of all colors in the garden. Thank you.

donna said...

I've NEVER seen such glorious morning glories like yours. You'd laugh your head off if you saw my pathetic little morning glories. Note to self: Do not post photos of my morning glories for fear that Barbee will see them:) BTW, I luv Kentucky.

Jean said...

I started to plant morning glories this spring but the slugs ate the first batch. Right before I was going to start another batch I came to my senses and decided that they might get too weedy where I live. So I planted moonflower and am now afraid those might seed out too much! Ah well. I love your morning glories and your story about eating the shells of the English peas, ha!

Sue Swift said...

Fun stories and lovely pics- I fail madly with Morning Glories. I think it may be too not here for them.

joey said...

My, what a prolific display of glorious morning glories, Barbee ... is there any blue more beautiful!

Barbee' said...

Donna, you are such a hoot! But, you know what, I think the ones I have halfway down the hill have too much vine even though that spot has not been fed the past two years. Prior to these plants I grew peas and beans. I guess they fixed a goodly supply of nitrogen that boosted the m. glories. I have enjoyed them greatly, but what I really enjoy the most is delicate, spindly vines with beautiful blooms. On the package it says not to fertilize them, for that very reason I'm sure... too much foliage. I am not a native Kentuckian, but I "luv" it, too. Been here since 1973. Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.

Hello Jean, I think you were correct in not planting the morning glories. I don't know about moonflower, I have never grown it and you know more about it than I, but I hope to grow it next year. I have only seen photos of it, and read what people have written about them. I guess I'll need to start it indoors early. Glad you enjoyed my post of photos and stories. Those poor kids, trying to eat those tough pea shells!

Hi there, Sue. Glad you enjoyed the pics and stories. I hope the post wasn't too long for folks, but I fear it was. If morning glories succeeded in growing for you, mightn't it reseed and become invasive there? Well, I'm thinking Italy, not England, guess you meant the same if you were thinking high heat. Anyway, just enjoy mine; you don't have to weed them out of your gardens.

Joey, your comment makes me want to clap my hands with glee! Nope, I think that blue is the tops.

Lzyjo said...

Oh, heavenly Blues are one of my favorites. My grandparents grew them every year. Next year I must grow them. I live the ivy growing au natural, it looks so much more realistic. As for the peas, that certainly is a dangerous misnomer, but than again I'd rather sweet peas instead of petit pois.

Barbee' said...

Lzyjo, that was my introduction to the Heavenly Blues, too. My maternal grandmother grew them at the west end of her front porch. I have loved them a long time, and of course, I think of her when I see them. I'm glad you liked the creeping ivy. Green peas I suppose would be the best name (?).

Fennie said...

Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

What a wonderful garden you have and such lovely pictures! I adore Morning Glories, too, but don't think I have your skill in growing them!

Barbee' said...

Hello Fennie, from what I read on your blog, I expect there will be a glorious traffic jam there. But, I guess there is no other way to do it even if it produces air and sound pollution. The plants in my garden do not grow due to any skill of mine; more like: they grow in spite of me. I think it is just the putting together of certain seeds and the soil and climate in which they can flourish. I cannot grow heaths and heathers here in this alkaline soil. Therefore, I enjoyed them ever so much during my one and only trip to U.K. including a weekend in Wales. Thank you for your positive feedback, much appreciated.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

My goodness, what a lot of photos you managed to take time to post! I love morning-glories, when they bloom! I could probably do without the vines if there were no flowers attached...but yours are lovely. Blue is just about my all-time favorite color for a bloom! (PS thanks for 'following' my blog) Jan

Barbee' said...

Hello Jan, Thank you for stopping by, and you are welcome for the "Following" link. I won't be able to read you every single day, but at least I have you captured so I won't lose you. Speaking of blue: your 'Bluebeard' is lovely. Now, where could I put just one more blue plant...

Dawn said...

I'm with you...I can't quite see why people have issues with the morning glories and the english ivy, I was reading and looking with awe!

Barbee' said...

Dawn, thank you! I think morning glories are only despised in regions where they are invasive and do not die down naturally. Our wintertime temperatures take care of that for me, so I am able to plant them with abandon. With English Ivy it is a different story. Once you get it, there is no getting rid of it. I do not know its cold weather limits, but I do know that we have had temps of 20 degrees below zero a few times, and it didn't phase it in the least.