By Tom McDonald of Smiling Dog Landscapes

Several years ago, before I did much research on plants, I planted a vine called Queen’s wreath on the top of a native rock wall thinking it would look great cascading and showcasing its dark green leaves and bright pink flowers against the brownstones. The vine had other ideas though, it wanted to climb and up it went, on to the bushes and cacti, everywhere but where I wanted. When winter came it appeared to die and discouraged, I removed the burnt foliage, vowing to plant something a little more cooperative in that spot next year. 

Spring arrived and lo and behold, the Queen’s wreath came back, stronger than before. This time I decided to give it something to climb and stuck a tall, skinny trellis smack in the middle of the vine. It quickly swallowed the trellis and again climbed over the bushes and cacti. Each winter the cycle repeated itself. This went on for a few more years. Despite its lack of cooperation, the beauty of its late summer bloom kept me trying to live with this vine. 

Finally, I did my research and found that Queen’s wreath:

  • Loves full sun and can take those hot south facing walls
  • Is deciduous but grows back each spring from a tuber 
  • Is listed as an exotic invasive in Florida 
  • The entire plant is edible (including the tuber) and some parts are even considered medicinal
  • Blooms from late summer to early fall
  • Is a native of Mexico and South America 

Last autumn the bed containing the Queen’s wreath had to be renovated, and I instructed the crew to remove all plants including the Queen’s wreath and replant the area with mostly agave.

Again the Queen’s wreath came back but this time to my surprise and puzzlement, it acted as a ground cover, snaking between the agaves and even down the wall, growing exactly the way I envisioned when I first planted it.

Why did it reform its wayward ways? One morning I discovered my wife Kathy, who does most of the gardening, had been watering and moving it daily, gently coaxing the twining tendrils to behave as desired. It took a woman’s touch to truly make this wreath fit for a Queen! 

Free November classes at Smiling Dog Landscapes include:

  • November 7th, 9:00 a.m. Curandero Walk (native edible and medicinal plants)
  • November 14th, 9:00 a.m. Coping with Critters!

Space is limited contact us to register:

480 288 8749
info@smilingdoglandscapes.com

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