Susan Jasan is a Landscape Designer specializing in residential projects. She holds a MS degree in Horticulture from the University of Arkansas and a BA in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. She can be reached at:

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Sleep, Creep, Leap
by Susan Jasan       #Vines

Nature constantly amazes me with its parallels between plant and human life on this earth, and what we can learn from our green partners on this planet.

Think about how when humans are first born, those precious babies spend most of their time sleeping. They spend lots of time where it seems like growth occurs in tiny incremental changes as each day passes. Not huge changes, but still marvels of change and development. Then before we know it, their legs and arms are working and exercising, and behold, they’re crawling across the floor. They’re zipping from one side of the room to the other chasing the cat or the dog, or following mom or dad from room to room. They’ve certainly gotten bigger, but their growth still seems to be at a steady, even pace.

Then poof, before we know it, they’ve rocketed into adolescence and very often surpass their parents' height. And we know the kids think they’ve also leaped ahead of their parents in knowledge as well as stature.

Now think about how in nature a plant generally follows the same growth pattern. First they spend time just getting settled into a new home. Then before we know it, some good roots are established and they begin a slow, steady growth pattern. A couple years go by and often we realize it has outgrown the area where we originally put a tiny 1-quart plant.

This is true for many plants, from perennials to shrubs to trees; as they get established they sleep the first year, creep the second, then leap thereafter with vigorous growth. But some leap beyond our expectations. Most often these are vines or ground covers.

If we give them lots of room and plan for their substantial growth, then those plants are a wonderful addition to our landscapes and our homes. But when that vine, which was a tiny 1-quart plant the first year in the ground, unexpectedly begins to grow as much as 15 feet a year like an established wisteria can, it can be quite a problem in the landscape.

So as you plan your spring gardening, remember to consider the long-term growth habit of the plants you select and be patient as they sleep, creep and then leap!

Some common plants that tend to Sleep, Creep and then Leap with extra gusto are:

     • Boston ivy

     • English ivy

     • Virginia creeper

     • Wintercreeper euonymus

     • Clematis

     • Morning glory

     • Wisteria

     • Bamboo

When planted in the right setting, each can be a great addition to your landscape.

Always take care not to use plants that are considered invasive in your area. It protects your investment in your landscape as well as protecting the surrounding environment and native wildlife too.




Boston ivy and Virginia creeper were planted together to make a great living wall over a large stone retaining wall. The fall colors are spectacular.


Evergreen wintercreeper euonymus makes a great ground cover on this steep sunny slope.



Morning glory explodes with summer color.


English ivy makes a carpet in this woodland setting, but use with caution as it leaps indiscriminately and can become invasive. Consider the setting and its leaping ability before you plant that 1-quart ivy starter.


Note the size of this wisteria vine after decades of growth on this arbor at Dumbarton Oaks.



Posted: 01/31/11   RSS | Print


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