Home & Design

Green Acre #28: Who’s Being Invasive Here?

invasive vines

Capitol Hill neighbors planted Heavenly Blue morning glories, which soon enveloped an ugly new No Parking Here to There sign. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

SOMETIMES AN INVASIVE vine of the most voracious variety is just what one needs.

For instance. In the part of Capitol Hill where I live, parking is rarely much of an issue. Maybe after a late night out we might have to wriggle into a space around the corner; hardly a hardship as we’re still spry enough to hobble 50 feet or so.

It’s a pretty street, lined with some of the oldest, largest elms in Washington, with neighbors well trained by frequent tickets to park far enough away from various intersections to avoid another nasty pink slip, knowing how close they can go to the tenth of an inch.

Not so those in charge of parking enforcement.

So often were tickets issued and then dismissed that two years ago our fair city was apparently compelled to create another whimsical make-work program for our overstaffed Department of Public Works; they stabbed in plug-ugly No Parking Here to There signs at each street corner and alley entry. As it seems the parking persons can’t be trained, we were visited with . . . ugliness.

For some neighbor—at any rate, me—blighting a perfectly lovely porch view of the elm canopy. Damn sign doesn’t even stand up straight. Bah.

And so I was sent into a near swoon when I noticed that someone on a nearby block, in a brilliantly passive-aggressive, make-lemonade move, had planted a twining totem of morning glories to smother the sign in front of their bandbox Edwardian under an explosion of vinery, asphyxiating it with clouds of Heavenly Blue morning glories (which is what they’re called as well as what they are), and a beautiful sight it was.

invasive vines

Not resting on their laurels (or morning glories) the neighbors then planted a fast-growing trumpet vine, the second-most-invasive vine around. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

Inspired by the neighbor and, of course, wanting to gild that lily, I mixed Heavenly Blue morning glories with moonflowers, for a little evening enchantment . . . and I soaked them, perhaps a bit too long, and planted them curbside and watched and watched and watched and, nothing at all emerged. Sigh. Sometimes I just despair of myself. Really.

Early this spring I passed by the morning-glory house and noticed something new sprouting. It was leafy and viney and I hadn’t a clue what it was . . . and then one day I passed and KAPOW! A trumpet vine had clutched the signpost and unfurled into a fabulously massive umbrella of orange pendules, a living exclamation point on the sidewalk outside this most charming home.

How brilliant, I thought, planting this second-most-invasive of vines—the harder the city tries to kill it the stronger and more murderously it will grow. (I know because I made the stupid mistake of starting one in my minuscule backyard to give balance to the wisteria—the first-most-invasive of plants—that I stupidly planted beside the garage, then “trained” it along the opposite wall).

This is where rash behavior gets you: “Oh! I love it! I’ll plant it!”

And, “I hope it will grow fast!”

Oh, fool.

Again I stared at my cockeyed sign, but in a rare instance of restraint, opted to muddle along in the sadly neglected front

invasive vines

All that’s left of the sign beautification project: a hacked vine. / Photo by Stephanie Cavanaugh.

garden, figuring to distract attention with a cacophonous sea of floriferous stuffs, at least for this year.

Just as well. Last week I pattered by morning glory/trumpet vine house and this is what greeted me.

I weep.

Thankfully, there’s just no killing this sucker: It will rise again, bigger and more brazen come spring.

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

LittleBird Stephanie is working on a book on city gardening. You can read earlier Green Acre columns by using the Search box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.



3 thoughts on “Green Acre #28: Who’s Being Invasive Here?

  1. oh and planting? Unless you’re planting a perennial vine in the actual garden, not a pot, wait until spring. Unless you’re in a place that doesn’t suffer an extended freeze.

  2. Baby says:

    Did they wriggle an actual planter pot around the base of the sign?! BRILLIANT. When can I plant morning glories? How pretty they would be, smothering all of the power lines anchored to the ground in front of our house…

    1. It’s a split pot. You can buy them….somewhere. You fit the two sides together, fill with soil and seeds. Maybe I could have mentioned? I, of course, decided to try to make my own. Which is, quite possibly, the reason why…FAIL. Try Amazon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.