It is not possible in all gardens to place garden obelisks in a place that receives full sun throughout the day. In those cases, use shade-tolerant vines to plant around your garden structures. These vines will happily grow and climb obelisks, trellises, pergolas or pergolas, creating an element in your garden that is part art sculpture and part plant.

Although there are many vines that grow well in full sun, there are many lesser known ones that will grow well in partial or deep shade. Planted in ideal growing conditions, these vines will quickly cover any freestanding garden structure, such as an obelisk, or produce a dense, vivid screen along a fence line.

In addition to planting them to climb obelisks, fast-growing vines are an ideal way to block an unpleasant view or create privacy along a property line or outdoor living space.

Dutch pipe

Hardy through USDA Zone 4, Dutchman’s pipe, botanically known as Aristolochia durior, is a tall vine that is grown primarily for its 6 to 10-inch, heart-shaped, dark green leaves. It produces mahogany and cream colored flowers, but they go unnoticed when they bloom in late spring.

Dutchman’s pipe grows up to 30 feet tall in partial shade. It requires a strong trellis because it grows quickly once it is established in your garden. Dutchman’s pipe resists contamination well and is rarely affected by pests or diseases.

Evergreen smilax

A fast growing evergreen vine, smilax or Smilax lanceolata, grows up to 30 feet tall, under ideal growing conditions. It grows equally well if planted in the sun or in the shade. TO

Fast growing vine, it is known to quickly cover its support structure with its glossy, lance-shaped, deep green leaves.

Its flowers bloom from April to July and have a jasmine scent. The quarter-inch, blackish-red berries ripen in the second year of plant life. Evergreen simlax is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 8.

Climbing hydrangea

A deciduous vine that grows up to 60 feet tall, climbing hydrangea, also known botanically as Decumaria barbara, it is not a true hydrangea at all. Its common name comes from its white flowers, which are found in broad, flat clusters, similar to those of hydrangeas.

The climbing hydrangea has aerial roots, which attach it to its supporting structure. These aerial roots are necessary for the plant to produce flowers. Climbing hydrangeas grow best in full sun or partial shade with rich, moist soil.

These are just a few climbing plants that are suitable for growing in garden obelisks, trellises, pergolas, and pergolas in partial shade sites.

Copyright Sharon Sweeny, 2011

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