Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Trumpet Vine 'Morning Calm'

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Oh my:  'Morning Calm' trumpet vine is just a-bloom.  For the while, nothing else in the garden matters.  Not weeding or watering.  Not the promise of dahlias to come in August, nor even the daylilies—all as eccentric and shocking as I could find—that are at full horsepower right now.

 

Perhaps the real meaning of the 'Morning Calm' name isn't quite about calmess at all.  Instead, the flowers stun you to immobility; you're not "calm" as much as you are slain or frozen.  But inside, you're quivering with excitement.  How can a trumpet vine—usually a love-hate plant, with hot flowers in hot weather but a bitch to control—be this tame in habit, this full-figured in flower?  Perhaps, then, this another meaning to 'Morning Calm': It's the trumpet vine you can enjoy, calmly and in the moment, without at the same time also scoping out where the latest darn suckers need to be chopped out, and so adding yet another session of gardener-on-her-knees-in-hot-weather to your long list.

 

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The buds always catch me by surprise.  They're preceded by two months of green foliage on fast-growing stems, which is so boring I gradually forget to look at the whole plant.  And so only when the bud clusters have emerged and flowering is truly imminent are my heat-burned and sweat-stung eyes once again able to take notice.  And the next morning, the buds open.  The show has begun.

 

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I'm just able to reach up to the lowest flower cluster to place a finger of respect.  Each five-petaled flower—soft apricot and yellow, with, I now see, raspberry veining—is four inches across.   Oh my, indeed.

 

 

Here's how to grow this voluptuous, heat-loving vine:

Latin Name

Campsis grandiflora 'Morning Calm'

Common Name

'Morning Calm' trumpet vine

Family

Bignoniaceae, the Catalpa family.

What kind of plant is it?

Woody perennial vine.

Hardiness

Zones 6 - 9.

Habit

Sprawling and clambering; climbing only with support.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

Stems to fifteen feet long or longer; the extent of the growth depends on how the plant is trained.

Texture

Lively, with typical jagged-edged trumpet vine leaves on long arching stems that grow very quickly with hot weather, and, at the ends, sprout lavish dangling flower clusters.

Grown for

its exceptional flowers, which, at three to four inches across, are many times larger than usual trumpet vine flowers, and almost twice as wide even as those of another popular trumpet-vine hybrid with noticeably big blooms, 'Madame Galen'.  The flowers are apricot and pink, with a yellow throat.  They're in large and loose clusters a foot or more in length, instead of in the tight fistfuls of the regular trumpet.

 

its lack of interest, unlike normal trumpet vine, in sending out underground runners to terrorize plants within fifteen feet.

Flowering season

High Summer: Late July into August. 

Culture

All possible sun and heat, in any decent soil with good Winter drainage.  Faster and taller in richer soil with good watering, but after it's established it's quite tolerant. 

How to handle it

'Morning Calm' is the trumpet vine to plant when you're, perhaps understandably, too afraid of the aggressive tendencies of the regular trumpets.  It neither self-clings nor twines, so it can't crawl up onto buildings or swamp nearby shrubs.  And it doesn't send out runners far and wide, so won't be popping up through a crack in the sidewalk ten feet away.

 

The exciting flower clusters are at the tips of new stems that arise from last year's woody growth.  Given that the plant is only hardy to Zone 6, though, this means that it's important that some of last year's woody growth survives the Winter.  If you're gardening in Zone 6, each Fall mulch the base of the plant heavily for the first few years after planting.  Older plants are solidly Zone 6. 

 

Assuming you've gotten your 'Morning Calm' through the Winter, the next question is how to handle the new growth that will start to grow in the Spring.  These stems can get eight to twelve feet long, and they don't (at least for me) have the ability to climb on their own.  So unless you want to have 'Morning Calm' sprawling through a huge bed as a loose groundcover—or you're able to plant it at the top of a high ledge or wall—you'll need to tie the stems up to some sort of structure to get them off the ground. 

 

If you grow 'Morning Calm' up and atop a pergola, make it a high one, otherwise the attractively-dangling stems that dangle their blooms down even farther will be in people's way.

 

Each of my pair of 'Morning Calm' gets its own very tall vertical stake.  The top is eight feet above ground but, even so, new stems from the bottom can grow up the whole length and then arch outward from the top.  My plants are old enough, with enough Winter-hardy top growth, that new stems arise right from the full length of the stake, too.  So by July, there are a number of stems doing swan dives from all elevations up and down the stake, each with a magnificant flower cluster at the end.  It's a unique show for Zone 6—but also a bulky one.  'Morning Calm' isn't the vine for people who need their plants to be contained and controlled. 

 

Each Spring, wait until the plant has started into growth so you can see which stem tips might have gotten Winter-killed.  Cut those off, tie in other viable stems that might now help fill out your structure, and cut off anything else, dead or alive, that's out of bounds.  Remember that if your 'Morning Calm' is the size you want it be in Spring, it will be eight or ten feet too big by August unless you're up for the (very pleasant, but still) task of tying in the new growth as it shoots forth all season long.  But for these thrilling flowers, almost any amount of fussing is worth it.

Downsides

The lengthy new stems need thoughtful control if the plant isn't to be a sprawling mess; its inability to twine or to self-cling only makes this challenge bigger.  On the other hand, because it won't self-attach to wood,

this is the one trumpet you can grow right by a clapboard building.

Variants

Despite the vigilance needed to control the regular trumpet vines, they are the best truly-hardy vines (down into Zone 4) for hot-weather bloom, reveling in the withering heat and drought that would kill any clematis in a weekend.  Grow them up strong poles, pruning ruthlessly in Spring, for a bullet-proof display in July and August.  'Mme Galen' has larger-than-normal flowers in a softer orange than usual.  'Flava' is somewhat less vigorous (yeh!) but also less floriferous (boo!) with flowers in a soft yellow.  Other culivars have flowers even redder than usual or have variegated foliage.  The close cousins, the cross vines, Bignonia capreolata, bloom earlier in the season (wow!) but are often too tender for Zone 6 and below.  I keep trying.

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

By cutting or layering.

Native habitat

'Morning Calm' is a hybrid of the subtropical Asian C. grandiflora with the very-hardy North American C. radicans.

 
 
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