Question from Diane:
I live in middle of Los Angeles (Hancock Park red clay soil) and have cyclone fence between new neighbors and my yard. Old divider was eugenia hedge now removed. East/south facing so sun most of the day. Think Jasmine, potato vine, wisteria would get too thick. Any other suggestions? Passion vine too agressive. A little side note – my mom gave me your first book when published and we still all refer to it. I have just redone the whole yard to include a formal potage. Very excited about all of it but can’t solve the problem of the fence. Best – Diane
Answer from Pat:
Heartwarming to hear how you love that old book but of course wish you’d try the new one. (Didn’t you ever notice that I omitted geraniums? By mistake of course.I wrote the section but it “fell off” the end of a document and never made it into that first book. So much for being a computer idiot at the time. A lot of other things didn’t get into to it either, including all the opening chapters (due to lack of space.) But after that first book’s huge success, I was able to put all the accidentally and on-purpose omitted stuff into the second edition published ten years later in 2000, and now the new edition (2010) has all that and more and is all-organic to boot. I’ve gone back to my roots on our Pennsylvania organic 1940′s farm and “tell all” about organic gardening and farming, how and why in the introductory chapter.
I know Hancock Park well. What a great place in which to live! One of my five grandchildren, Rebecca Woolf, blogger extraordinaire (http://www.girlsgonechild.net/2010/04/garden.html,) and her husband Hal and their kids Archer and Fable lived nearby, all squashed together in a little house in Larchmont, for five years, but now they have moved up in the world, to Hollywood, a month ago. I haven’t seen their house (still a rental) yet but intend to soon.
Now for your chain link fence. My younger daughter, Wendy, Rebecca’s mom, and husband Larry planted star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) and potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) on a fence between themselves and next door neighbors must be 25 years ago. It’s still there. If ever messy or a bit overgrown, they just chop away at it. It’s provided good privacy. I planted star jasmine, some in shade, some in sun here at my house on a fence. That was 1982. It’s still fine. We try to control width by shearing it after bloom. Works pretty well and gives me excellent privacy from the road below the bank. It’s not on chain link but similar since one could see through if no growth on it. The look is of a hedge, which I like, and also the flowers are so delightfully fragrant for a month or more. Other things I like for chain link fences are Thunbergia gregori, Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Golden Glow’, Blue Sky Vine (Ipomoea indica) but problably not a good choice since it’s invasive—Nonetheless I love it—, and Pyrostegia venusta. Another thought is Lavender trumpet vine (Clytostoma callistegioides.) It’s such a splash of color and long spring and summer bloom and no pests or diseases, any kind of soil, and easy to control. Only problem: A bit slow to start.
One caveat on jasmine: Begin with plants that are already on trellis in 5 gallon cans. You should be able to get them right now since they are still in bloom. Set them in the ground so the trellises touch. This will give you a fast cover. There is no rule saying you have to have only one thing. You could plant a splash of color as well. A bougainvillea in the hottest spot for example. It wants full sun and hot hot spot to do it’s best. Since you have red clay soil, dig half a coffee can full of gypsum into the bottom of every planting hole to improve drainage. Gardens are great in Hancock Park. That nutritious clay soil can grow great roses and many other flowering plants. Re: thickness, shear to control after bloom. Let the neighbors worry about their side. Pyrostegia venusta drapes down like a curtain, not thick. Thick is nice since it’s private.
Longtime friend of mine, the late great Chuck Kline of Seaworld, once said to me, “If you want to grow something, try it. If it’s the wrong thing, change it! Don’t be afraid to yank things out and try something else.” So really you can’t go wrong. If I were you I’d do star jasmine and plant now.
Great idea about your formal potage. Have fun! (Sounds as if you are.)
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