ISSUE 66  |  Cult of the Kitchen

Design Sleuth: Vines as Espalier

April 05, 2013 3:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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This is what my backyard looks like, with espaliered vines crisscrossed in a delicate web against a whitewashed fence. In my dreams. The reality, a few months after a remodel during which the contractors' backhoes and 12-foot-high construction pile dominated the landscape, I am desperate to get something green to grow as soon as possible on my bare, raw wood fence. Fast-growing vines are clearly the answer:

Above: Image via Designer's Block. Depending on your growing zone, you can achieve a similar look with any number of fast-growing vines.

In Northern California, where I live, Confederate (or Star) Jasmine Vine thrives. A twining, evergreen, woody perennial that grows as a vine in zones 8 to 10 (California, southwestern and southeastern US), it needs to be pruned ruthlessly if you want to maintain a cobwebby pattern against a fence. It is $29.95 for a 1-gallon pot through Brighter Blooms.

Above: A glossy-leafed option is camellia, such as 'Yuletide' Camellia,' which can be trained to grow against a fence. Camellia is hardy from zones 7 to 9; it is $54 per plant from Amazon. Photograph via Active Rain.

Need a vine that's hardy in a different growing zone? See Alternatives to Ivy: Vertical Growers.

Above: To make it easier to control growth, plant the vines in pots rather than directly into the ground; this will limit the spread of their roots. A 20-inch-high Vintage Zinc Barrel with a diameter of 17.5 inches is $298 from Terrain.

For more well-trained vines, see Design Sleuth: Neisha Crosland's Espaliered Vines.