Easiest and most trustworthy are canary bird and black-eyed Susan vines, sweet peas, scarlet runner beans, climbing nasturtiums and morning glories. Fairbanks researchers described Milky Way morning glory as a “vigorous, thick vine covered with blooms” that proffered a “very attractive display all summer” and “grew rapidly (covering) the trellis by midsummer.” Don’t bother with Cypress Vine, which in the same 2008 Georgeson Botanical trials, did not flower at all.
Then there is clematis. With 300 distinct species and thousands of varieties, clematis warrants its own article if not 10. But I will try to impart the basics here. Flowers belonging to the Clematis genus boast a diversity of flower types and habits and while they generally climb, that’s not always true. Solitary (C. Integrifolia) and Purpurea (C. Recta) Clematis are generally hardy in Fairbanks (at least in a sunny, warmer location) and are examples of non-climbing clematis. But I digress — I’m writing about vines, not shrubs!
Cindy Tibbetts, owner of Hummingbird Farm Greenhouse that sells, “Clematis . . . for the Frozen North,” recommends trying clematis cultivars belonging to the Kivistik (large flowered hybrids developed in Estonia) and Alpina group (C. alpina) for as cold as zone 3, the warmest Fairbanks zone indicated on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Map. The coldest is zone 1. I just bought a Huvi clematis (C. x UNAI 006), which belongs to the Kivistik group, with big, gorgeous blue flowers. I planted it close to the house and hope it will survive the winter.
• Flower trials conducted in Fairbanks: www.georgesonbotanicalgarden.org/research-education/plant-trials/
• The newly revised “Alaska’s Sustainable Gardening Handbook” available soon from UAF Cooperative Extension Service: www.uaf.edu/ces
• “Landscape Plants for Alaska,” www.alaskaplants.org