If you find a place in each view for one or more kinds of the longest blooming plants, and build your landscape pictures to complement their colors and character, your beds can nearly always be freshly beautiful.
These Loniceras are tough and reliable and contribute substantially to a long, colorful garden year everywhere they reside.
- Dropmore Scarlet is the longest blooming vine of the Lonicera clan in our area, taking us through the entire summer season. Scarlet, who is an iridescent orange with yellow and red in it, will keep reflowering prodigiously starting sometime in June and go right through October. Though she can grow up from locations that have modest light at the base of the plant, she needs sunshine on all the places where you want flowers. If there is less light there will be fewer flowers, but these vines are versatile, and if they can get a few hours of shafts of good daily light in the growing season, either of my prizewinning Loniceras still bloom quite well. In a modestly lit place you might well enjoy the warming welcome that Scarlet can provide all season, even if the flowering is spare. Lonicera sempevirens is proudly a native North American species. Dropmore Scarlet resulted from a cross between Lonicera sempervirens and Lonicera hirsuta made by Dr. F.L. Skinner at Dropmore in Manitoba, Canada and was introduced in 1950. Some of the other L. sempevirens varieties are also candidates with great garden promise.**
- My second favorite long blooming Lonicera is Graham Stuart Thomas, who is usefully light clear yellow, and these are easier hues than Scarlet’s oranges to add to diverse color schemes. While reblooming very reliably over a very long span, Graham is a bit less floriferous than Scarlet. Absolutely rock hardy, with excellent foliage, and nectar for you in its flowers, this is a vine I would not want to be without.Graham Stuart Thomas was one of the greatest plantsmen and garden writers of this past century. It seems so appropriate that this excellent vine carries on the tradition of quality that his name has always represented.For years I thought this Lonicera was a sempevirens variety, because the vine behaves like Dropmore Scarlet in so many ways, but Graham is actually a relative of a European wild species rather than our own continental native.In 12 years of growing this plant I have never had it self sow or otherwise behave in ways that might indicate invasive tendencies...
- There are invasive Loniceras, so do be particular as to variety.…
…….. Siting Your Vines…
- These Lonicera relatives are beautiful in nearly every way, but like Clematis and climbing Roses, their legs are not usually their best feature. Providing a handsome skirting planting or a structure in front of their awkward legs will often flatter the overall appearance of your vine in the landscape. Something a few feet high or so will work. If it is something planted, your bed needs to be wide enough to accommodate the stature of all the plants sharing the bed. You want to anticipate providing enough regular water and nutrients for all the residents to thrive. If there is too much competition or too little water for them, Lonicera’s flowering may dwindle.
An airy place and good drainage are necessary as there can be mildew type problems with the leaves, and these are more common if the place retains moisture.
Encourage the Climbing
- .Both of these Loniceras are easy to please ecologically and malleable in their shape, but they need strong structures to tie them against as they grow along. If left to themselves to figure out where to go, they are bound to get floppy and messy. In fact, if you have a tumbledown wall or other disreputable something you want to cover, let these Loniceras cascade. They will clamber all over the place and take care of the coverage problem floriferously.
They don’t attach to buildings or structures on their own, which is a good thing because they won’t damage your home as self attaching vines do, but it means that if you want to use them in a vertical application, the support structure is very important. Your supports need to be designed to have places to weave through and tie to all along the projected travel routes of your vine. This construct is your way of telling the vines where you do or don’t want them to go, and helping them to get there. The upcoming performance of any climbing plant will depend alot on the support it is given. Hopeful tendrils, encouraged by tying up, will send up more new hopefuls. The further along the vine can get, the more lovely and continuing its flowering will usually be.
- If thoroughly supported in their climbs, these Loniceras will happily cover a 6 x 8’ section of fence, or elongate to even double that if encouraged to do so. Scarlet and Graham will also flower well even if kept small or spare by pruning, if such are your landscape needs, but the new shoots will still need structure and guidance. Usually these vines prefer to twine counter clockwise, so respect their wishes if you want enthusiasm.
- In the growing season, you can expect to be touching up the clasps and ties once a week if you want to guide the climb. The process of tying can be a lot to keep up with, but it makes all the difference in outcomes. A wonderful invention from Bosmere Tool Co. ® called a ‘Lever Loop’ allows you, in the blink of an eye, to clasp the shoots of a climbing plant to one another or to any nearby slender support without cutting and tying all those little bits of string. You gently pinch these clips to open them, so they can be moved around anytime. They last for years, and are inexpensive to begin with. They will change your relationship to your climbers for the better, but don’t give up your jute twine, you’ll need some of that too.
Pruning Your Loniceras
Any stem left on after its flower has passed will begin to go to seed. This tends to take energy out of the flower production end of things. If instead you trim the goneby stems back to the next set of leaves – or further if you want to reshape the vine a bit – this helps the vine to put its energy into sending out new shoots, which will carry the flowers of the upcoming weeks.
Towards the end of the garden year, I stop trimming and so some fruits develop. They color up nicely to red and are eaten quickly by the birds.
- Later I cut back these Loniceras, often quite drastically, to a base shape that is gracefully pleasing even in winter. I always leave a few long stems that have already accomplished the job of getting where I want them. These old wood stems will send out new shoots from just about everywhere along their length, and then flower on all the new stems.
You need to anticipate allowing many feet of growth of in all directions each new year, so keeping a trimmed winter shape can also help to keep your summer Lonicera within your chosen bounds...
“All colors are beautiful or ugly
according to their quality and place
in relation to other colors.”
Fletcher Steele, Gardens and People
Color is by context difficult or easy.
Most people would agree that Dropmore Scarlet’s iridescent coloring is beautiful by itself, but the overall effect is in the orange range and there is a common prejudice against using orange plant materials.
- This everblooming orangey red vine is particularly valuable because its warm bright tones draw your eye from a distance over such a long span of the garden year. The best thing about Dropmore Scarlet’s color contribution is that it goes on and on for 5 months, but this is also the difficult thing, because through all that time she needs to be sited with companionable colors.
Orange and orangey reds particularly argue with many ‘reds that have blue in them and blues that have red in them’. Dropmore
Scarlet’s rich tones may make otherwise lovely light pink plants look sickly. Many Rhododendrons in fushia hues prefer to be elsewhere. There are definitely things you may want to avoid having in the same view.
- Dropmore Scarlet, or any similarly colored plant, can be difficult to simply insert into the landscape because there are many plants flowering in the BIV*** parts of the color range at overlapping times of the flowering year. This steers many gardeners towards complete avoidance of oranges and reds as being the path of fewest potential color disagreements. If instead you use the orange with color companions which enhance it, all will surely be well.
‘If Red is in your Blues or Blue is in your Reds,
Orange will be Safer in Some Other Garden Bed.’
- Color planning changes everything. …….‘Accessorise Colorwise’
- Celebrating the oranges and reds in particular places by making color compositions with them in mind prevents these problems. If strategically planted with only agreeable companions in the view, Dropmore Scarlet can become a beloved centerpiece for a great many pictures throughout the year.
- This is not even difficult to accomplish.
- To avoid color arguments I can suggest that Dropmore Scarlet and other true orange flowering plants are easy to partner with plant colors as long as they are on the ROYG*** parts of the color circle, and she also gets along fine with either white or ivory. I usually also try to keep my true whites and my ivories separate to help each look their best.
- I have sought out pleasant companions for the lovely Dropmore scarlet, and below are described a few of her best friends in my landscapes. There are never any arguments with Scarlet in these compositions since they were designed with her esthetic comfort in mind.
Chamaecyparis obtusa nana lutea and Chamaecyparis o. cripsii are yellow evergreens and thus all year companions to the ROYG color palette. The white Geranium sanguineum album has been chosen for nearby floors instead of her purplish red, lovely but contextually difficult color cousin. Nearby in the views, the papery light orange poppy flowers of Papaver rupifragum appear daily for two months and more, providing a tinted color echo for Scarlet.
Hosta June, with yellow paint swaths on her leaves and colonies of the variegated Saxifaga umbrosa aurea provide foliage sunshine in the view. There will be bright orange Arum italicum pictum seedpods in late summer.
The gentle everblooming Corydalis lutea is an yellow enhancer tucked into corners nearby. Corydalis lutea alba keeps ivory flowers in a low light landscape alongside Dropmore scarlet from June through September.
There are lots of textural deep greens in the background. In mid summer white Cimicifuga plumes, Chinese Cimicifugas for later, yellow Ligularia Britt Marie Crawford and afterward Anemone j. Honorine Jobert join the composition. All these are lovely with the color set. Clematis paniculata takes us to the end of the year in complementary white floral enthusiasm.
Towards the end of the garden year the red, orange and yellow tones naturally begin to dominate the fall landscape, by then decorated with berries, russeting fall foliage and pumpkins, so Dropmore Scarlet’s flowers and berries are invariably welcome as color allies at this time of year.
- Rules are also made to be broken.
Some purples can be very happy with some oranges.
I’m just saying to be wary, and maybe start with this easy ‘rule of thumb’ way with things that are most likely to work well.
* There is a yellow Lonicera variety called John Clayton which is smaller in stature than either of my first prize winners. This size class would seem potentially very useful, and the plant easy to site since it’s yellow, but my experience in our local 5b coastal ecotome has shown this kind a little more susceptible to aphid infestation than my aforementioned favorites. Lonicera s. Mandarin is an exquisite terra cotta corally color but, in my experience, this vine had a disappointingly short blooming season and was overall a weaker plant than the Loniceras herein recommended, so I don’t use her any more.
**L.s. Alabama Crimson behaves much like cousin Scarlet but is a bit redder in color, less orangey. She appears an excellent candidate for our gardens. I have only been growing her for a few years, not nearly as long as I have my tried and trues, but she’s well on her way to my Best list.
*** Red Orange Yellow and Green = ROYG / Blue Indigo and Violet = BIV