January 9, 2013

The Perfect Plan

For several years I grew the beautiful pink and white tipped kiwi vine, Actinidia kolomikta.

But it is no longer in my garden. Not because I killed it, but because I could not figure out where it should go. It was a case of plant desire without a plan.

I bought it originally to climb up a trellis to hide the utility meters on the side of the house. But it didn't work there, and I moved it to the patio, to scramble over a low wall rather than climb up a structure. That wasn't right either.

Moved it again to a holding spot at the side of the deck. And moved it again, and finally gave up. It's gone now.

But now, making plans in the dead of winter (danger! danger!) I think I have an idea.

I do. I have a great idea.

The entrance to my gravel garden needs definition, and I think a gate and vine covered arbor would be perfect right there.

To the left of this opening there is a baby magnolia tree -- you can see the leaves on a plant in the foreground about a foot high. It is tiny and won't shade the area or frame the entrance for another 15 or 20 years (I'm on the extended garden plan schedule).  To the right next to the grass clump, you can just see the dark leaves of a smokebush, and that will grow large quite soon, filling the right side of the entrance.

Where the two bluestone steps lead from the driveway into the pea gravel area, I want to put a gate and arbor with the variegated foliage of Actinidia kolomikta climbing over it. How it would frame the entrance to the space! And provide shade!

Looking the opposite way, from inside the gravel garden, the entrance opens unceremoniously out into a grassy area. It needs a gate. And an arbor, doesn't it?

I've been spending a winter afternoon looking at ideas for a gate and arch -- I don't want a white picket cottage look, and I don't want it to be too fussy or too cute or too ornate.

Or too rustic.  I have my standards.

Okay, some ideas, see what you think:
If this was natural wood I'd like it better than white pickets.
From bhg.com
From Flickr - Jon Shadford
Photo is taken at Tangled Garden in Nova Scotia (link here)
This was found at A Primitive Place

I like the gate and arch but not the overly flowery climbers.
Picture it with the pink tipped foliage of a kiwi vine on it.

This is from Timothy Lee Landscape Design. I'd want a gate below.

This is from Clive Nichols.  Again, I'd want a gate
below, but the framing into the gravel area is what I like here.

So, with a beautiful gate and arbor, I think I now have a place to try growing a kiwi vine again.

Variegated kiwi vine is hardy in my zone 5 / 6 garden, but it should not be confused with Actinidia arguta, which is actually called "hardy kiwi". That plant is quite a climber, getting way too big for a small arbor.

Actinidia kolomikta is smaller, the perfect size (it vines to 12 feet), and the 'Arctic Fire' cultivar has lovely random pink or white color on the leaf tips. Male plants show the most color, and my young vines did show some paint splashes in spring. The female vine I grew also produced little grape-sized green kiwis. They did not have a fuzzy brown rind, but were thin skinned and you could eat the little fruits skin and all.
Even my young, frequently transplanted kiwi vine had pink splashes last spring

I need to mull this idea over. I move too many plants and change too many ideas too often to be comfortable committing to a structure installed in the garden. And I have a fear of cluttering the place up.

But I would have a place to grow a kiwi vine again, and it would be soooo perfect, wouldn't it?

28 comments:

  1. You nailed it! It is going to look awesome there! It will be a fantastic entrance and focal point!

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    1. Nicole, thanks! I'm hoping this plan will work.

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  2. You bet it would be perfect. That spot needs something. An arbor and gate would be just the ticket. I like that circle feeling of the second gate/arbor picture. Of course I like circles in the garden so I would be drawn to it. It will be interesting to see what you come up with.

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    1. Lisa, I like the circle feeling too, kind of a moongate idea but not made of stone.

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  3. I vote for any of the arbors you have posted, but then again I'm an arbor-aholic. I love the feeling of entering into a secret, special place, of passing through a doorway.

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    1. Rosemary, that's what I want to create, a feeling of entering a secret space.

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  4. Now I want a hardy kiwi vine also. And another arbor.

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    1. Jason, that's what winter is for -- it lets you dream about all the plants and structures you want!

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  5. I love the idea of an arbor there. Just perfect. I really am not sure it needs a gate, though. If there is a gate, I would hope it would be one you can see through, not like the second picture where it is solid. Just my opinion. I like the one with the pointed top. I guess look at the architecture of your house. Do you have lots of arches that you want to mirror that look, or peaks?? Just thinking out loud, offering ideas. I do love the idea of making that area more important with a special entrance. Can't wait to see what you come up with!!!

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    1. Toni, you make some good points about integrating with the house . My house is a wide peak on that side, and I think a rounded arch would soften that, but maybe I should be trying to mirror the peak? I did see another arch that I had not posted and it was angled at the top ... now you have me thinking!

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  6. I like structure 2 with gate 1. But I like rounded forms so I have a biased opinion. I do like the idea of putting something there and love vines. An arbor with a kiwi vine would be beautiful. :o) Maybe you can Photoshop an arbor into one of your photos to see which one you'd like the best.

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    1. Tammy, I did some photoshopping of arches on the picture I used here, and it convinced me the structure would be perfect --- I just have to imagine the kiwi vine after a year or two of growth. Of course I also photoshopped a lovely magnolia framing the entrance, but the one I planted won't give me that look for ages. sigh.

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  7. As one who moves plants and garden elements around constantly I can appreciate your apprehension over committing to something permanent. However I've found that once I take the plunge and install something like an arbor that can't be moved, I'm prefectly happy to work around it and change up some of the plants.

    All of those gates would work. Did I see others on your Pinterest board? In the end you'll find the perfect one to suit your taste and garden style. The October snow storm crushed an arch I had over the front walkway. Last spring it collapsed so I had to remove it. I still haven't decided if it will be replaced and if so, with what. If I wait too long, my dreaming winter window of opportunity will close.

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    1. Sue, I do have some other gate pictures on Pinterest. There's even a metal one from Amazon that is exactly the shape I want, and I could "commit" to an inexpensive one like that since it could easily be moved. I'm sure for the price it is flimsy, but it might give me what I want until a more permanent installation.

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  8. Glad I'm not the only one faced with plants that are in limbo. I thought it must just be me letting my plant lust get out of control, I buy without thinking all too often. Love the idea of an archway, it would really define the space. and can I just say I'm really liking how the plants are now starting to grow over the edges of the gravel and move in? Your seating area is becoming more and more lovely each day.

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    1. Marguerite, thank you! The seating area was just put in in fall of 2011, so it is still new, but the plants are doing what I wanted and spilling over the edges! And once the trees that surround it grow, there will be shade : ) And an arbor soon . . .

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  9. Laurrie, love your plan with Actinidia kolomikta. I have this kiwi vine and grow it on the pergola in my garden (http://northern-garden.blogspot.com/2012/10/small-and-tasty-fruit.html). I eat its fruit, are tasty.

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    1. Nadezda, I loved reading about your kiwi vine and your pictures are great. I'm glad it is a success for you, and it makes me really want to get one going again here!

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  10. It's so exciting when these ideas come, isn't it? Ah-ha moments. I like the shape of the first arch best, I think it would suit the shape of your gravel area from both sides. The only Actinidia available here is the huge monster one, so I've never been able to grow it, but it is a beautiful vine.

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    1. Lyn, I like the first one a lot too. So glad to see you are back! The news from Australia burning up has been horrible. I hope further south you are safe. I'm hoping your summer gardens are doing well even if the grass browns out a bit!

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  11. I was in the mood to do some internet sleuthing last night. I think this is the original source of your photo:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/9586953@N08/3495884186/

    I love gates with round tops

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    1. Plantingoaks, thanks -- I have updated the attribution on the photo. I appreciate the sleuthing! Pinterest and Tumblr drive me crazy with photos that get reposted so much they lose their origins, some of mine included : (

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  12. I really like the Shadford gate - circle with scooped gate. It divides but not too much - It seems inviting to me. Lots of great choices. Which one are you leaning towards?

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    1. Claudia, I like the simplicity of the first one, but all of them are the general idea I am after ... a low gate and a rounded, or even circular arch. Decisions, decisions!

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  13. I think the area looks perfect without anything extra. lol!

    I always like the idea of a simple arch.

    I love that last, green archway, that looks like jasmine, perhaps? That is lovely.

    Btw, don't let my failure with propagating holly discourage you. It's not supposed to be difficult to propagate so it may work out fine for you.

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    1. Sweetbay, that's why I am dithering...I think the area is nice and uncluttered without any arches or gates. But. I also think my idea here would be perfect. Or not. What to do!!

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  14. You have the right idea I think with the arched structure. Keep it simple and unfussy is the way to go. Let the vine be the showcase. It will define your space nicely.

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    1. Donna - exactly! Unfussy is what I need, and the whole reason for the structure is to showcase the pretty foliage and shape of the kiwi vine.

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