Several gardeners complain the trumpet vine does not bloom as promptly as they think it should, and I fully agree.
Once I moved a trumpet vine from Tennessee to Washington and although it grew right along it had no flowers for three or four years, even though the original plant had long bloomed freely. In another case a friend had a yellow trumpet vine and objected to the color (which I like enormously) and gave me the plant. It only bloomed in its fourth year after transplanting.
A wild trumpet vine, probably distributed in seed from a bird, grew on my fence for five or six years before it began to bloom.
On the other hand, I have had a trumpet vine bloom the first year from a new plant. I do not know why some trumpet vines are slow to bloom and others not. All trumpet vines I have known bloom like mad, once they start.
Another vine now blooming is the Japanese wild clematis, with small white starry flowers that smell of almonds. This plant does not do well in England, but grows and blooms like a weed here. Sometimes it is seen growing wild in Washington alleys. It is one of the most beautiful of all ornamentals, never bothered by fungal or animal woes. It is an ideal plant for fences, including chain-link fences. It loses its leaves in November or December, but leafs out early and by April is a mantle of green again.
Yet another vine coming into bloom is the silver lace vine, which is too vigorous for lazy gardeners. Indeed, I am in a quandary about it myself, as no matter how often (about three times a year, but it seems more than that) I tackle it with hedge shears, it gets ahead of me on the 20-foot frame I grow it on. It is utterly healthy and very beautiful when covered with its spikes of small fragile white flowers, and it is usually at its best just as the wild clematis finishes, though a vigorous silver lace vine may bloom fairly steadily throughout the summer and early fall.
It would be beautiful grown up a dead maple, but I suppose not everybody likes dead maples as much as I do.
A lovely but somewhat overwhelming vine (at my place it killed a five-year-old wisteria) is the porcelain berry, Parthenocissus brevipedunculata. It has smaller fleshier leaves than the Virginia creeper or Boston ivy (two related vines) and its great attraction is masses of small blue berries with black dots. A form of this vine has white-variegated leaves, and this form is less vigorous. The porcelain berry is handsome on low chain-link fences of the sort often found around basement entrances to houses. There, surrounded entirely by paving, it is easily controlled.
If, however, it finds itself in good rich soil in full sun, it can cover a 25-foot tree in two or three years, billowing out with all the luxuriance of a wild grape vine (to which it is related). If you grow any of these vines mentioned today, do not let them get into things like climbing roses or any other plant you value. Still, every one is luxuriant, foolproof, and a good bit more beautiful than many rarities we coddle along.
A couple of readers reproach me, rightly, for failing to mention the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) as a glory of late summer. This native wildflower produces stems three feet or so in height, studded with crimson-scarlet blooms favored by hummingbirds. It grows naturally in wet meadows, but grows admirably in ordinary nonboggy borders of a town garden.
Another reader reports, somewhat surprisingly, great success with the blue columbine of Colorado, which I always supposed was difficult. But this reader says it grows freely, as easily as our own native columbine that is rather dwarf, red and yellow, and as easily as the ordinary garden columbines which are hybrids. The wild blue one is therefore worth our trying.
A kind reader, possibly embarrassed for me (I reported I am the only gardener I ever heard of that cannot grow annual poppies) sent me some scarlet double poppy seed. No way I can fail with these, I am told. Ha. But a very kind thought, and I shall try again.
A reader in Georgia sent some seed of what was said to be a beautiful vine for rural post office boxes mounted on a post. This plant has bloomed and turns out to be the cardinal climber with finely dissected lacy green leaves and small fingernail-sized star flowers of purest red. It has found its way into a patch of ordinary white-gray-leaved artemisia or dusty miller, simply because I scattered the seed there just to see what the plant would be. The effect is very pretty. This vine is easily grown from seed every year, and is pretty not only on mailbox posts but also on those rather unornamental wire backstops to tennis courts.
The moonflowers, great white saucers that open about dusk, are now at their best. This year for some reason I did not water mine as faithfully as usual, and the one on the guy wire by a utility pole has only grown to 12 feet or so. When properly cared for, the vine will go to 25 feet. Yet the semistarvation fare has resulted in a heavy set of bloom; the other night there were more than 30 flowers open on the small vine, though with less starch or substance to the flowers than usual. A neighbor, who grows the moon vine on a wooden railing about a deck, has larger blooms of greater substance, the result of better care. These glorious flowers, so easily grown from seed planted outdoors in May, must be visited by night moths, though I have never noticed any.