Our favourite: Engelmann’s Virginia Creeper
Here’s a tough yet great-looking vine with a talent for clinging to walls that would make Spiderman jealous. Fast-growing Engelmann’s Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia ‘Engelmannii’) thrives in full sun or dense shade and in just about any type of soil—even when it’s doused with road salt. I like it best in autumn, when the late afternoon sun catches the brilliant crimson leaves, making them look as if they’re on fire. And once the leaves fall, lustrous clusters of long-lasting, blue-black, grape-like fruits are revealed along the branches. Though safe for birds, these fruits are poisonous to humans.
Grow Engelmann’s Virginia creeper up a tree or on a wall, or use it as a groundcover. This plant may reach up to 20 metres when fully mature, but its daintier leaves and more compact habit make it a more appropriate choice for small gardens than common Virginia creeper. Zone 3.
Other vine picks:
Height: 10 to 15 m
Spread: 2 m Location: part to full shade
Cultivation: moist but well-drained soils. Clings with aerial roots; needs strong support
Foliage: glossy, medium green; yellow in fall
Fruit: brown capsule Flowers: large, fragrant, creamy white clusters; July
Russian virgin’s bower
Height: 3 m Spread: 2 m
Location: full sun to part shade
Cultivation: moist to well-drained soils
Foliage: small, grey-green
Fruit: dense, shaggy, round, silky seedheads to frost
Flowers: small, nodding, yellow lanterns; July to frost