Vines, depending on the variety, can spread over rocks and wind through bushes. They can climb tree trunks and plunge from cliffs. They're available in a wide range of colors, textures and fragrances and can match, complement and contrast with other plants and structures in an outdoor environment. Vines are annual and perennial, evergreen and deciduous. They can grow in gardens or in containers, in sun or shade.
Evergreens bring a bit of life to cold, colorless winter. Wintercreeper is one of the hardiest evergreen vines. In addition to tolerating cold weather, it climbs well and can reach the top of the three-story building. English ivy also keeps its leaves all year but does not grow well in the winter north of USDA hardiness zone 8, the southern United States. In warmer climates, evergreen clematis and creeping fig are good choices for evergreen vines. The clematis has shiny leaves and showy, fragrant flowers, while creeping fig has small leaves and makes a fine textured wall covering.
The foliage of vines can be as splashy and dramatic as their flowers, though leaf color is more of a constant in the garden. For yellow leaves all season long, plant Buttercup English ivy or golden hops. To add a splash of purple to the garden, plant the purpleleafed grape vine or the purple sweet potato. Those who prefer the mixed green and white of variegated leaves can plant wintercreeper or variegated Japanese hops. The kolomikta vine produces tricolored leaves that are green, white and pink. Boston ivy and crimson glory are excellent choices for those who prefer autumn color.
Vines with showy flowers add luxuriant color without taking up space. Trumpet honeysuckle blooms from May until October, adding beauty and fragrance to the garden throughout the growing season. Tropical vines such as Mandeville and golden trumpet bloom all summer. Three selections of clematis provide spring to fall flowers: anemone clematis in the spring, Jackman clematis in the summer and sweet autumn clematis in the fall.
Green, the fundamental color of the garden, is the background for the other colors and ties outdoor spaces together. Vines noted for their soothing, dark green foliage include Boston ivy, with its shiny, deciduous leaves, and Dutchman's pipe, notable for a layered growth pattern that lends a three-dimensional effect to the garden. In addition to its deep green foliage, morning glory offers colorful purple blooms, while wisteria blossoms in fragrant white and purple clusters.