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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 Gorgeous Climbing Vines to Plant for a Flowing, Bohemian-Chic Container Garden

By: Mairi Beautyman

There is something magical about a climbing vine in a garden. Vines seem to have a mind of their own and go completely wild with just a little bit of love. Something about this makes them symbolize a freestyle bohemia that is much more desireable to me than a few straight-laced plants properly lined up in a row, like a bunch of buttoned up soldiers.
And just because you are limited to a balcony or a small outdoor space doesn't mean you need to miss out.
The five vines here, from flowering to fruit baring, are all suitable for container gardens -- all you need is a big pot and something for it to climb up, generally a few sticks of bamboo will do. For more artful climbing, you can look into twining, netting or strings, or a trellis.

1. Black Eyed Susan Vine

The fast-growing Black Eyed Susan Vine (also called the Thunbergia or Clock Vine) adds a little drama with its solid black eye, framed by sunny yellow, white, or bold orange flowers.
They're easy to grow from seed, prefer full sun, and grow 6 to 8 feet tall. (870 Milligram PacketFerry-Morse 1779 Black-Eyed Susan Annual Flower Seeds, Vine (870 Milligram Packet), $.65 at

2. Sweet Lace Grape Vine

As the enthusiastic Patti Moreno points out in this video, Sweet Lace Grapes orVitis Vinifera are a hearty addition to a container garden with the added bonus of a harvest -- which you can use for wine, jams, and jellies.
She says:
Sweet Lace Grapes are the perfect grape vine to grow in a container on a patio -- they're small, they're compact, even though they can grow to be between 20-40 feet. Keep it pruned if you don't want it to go that crazy or make sure you give it a vertical support, or plant it up against a lattice fence, or over an arbor.
($2 for 50 seeds on Amazon)

3. Heavenly Blue Morning Glory

Rowdy Rider/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Best in full sun, the Heavenly Blue Morning Glory blooms all summer long -- up to 10 weeks -- and can grow an ambitious 12 feet high. (I once had a neighbor two floors down that missed out on most of his blooms...which climbed out of the shade to my apartment).
Morning Glories come in several color options, but the contrast of the blue and white here is particularly stunning.($4.92 for 150 seeds on Amazon)

4. Clematis Konigskind Climador

Alexandre Dulaunoy/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Boasting clusters of lovely violet-blue blossoms, the Clematis Climador (also known as Konigskind )’ is a relatively new addition to the perennial container garden market, meaning it is bred to be in a pot, with a long blooming period.
One of the best new clematis to grow in containers is Clematis Konigskind ‘Climador’. This perennial has 5-inch-diameter, purple-blue, ruffled flowers that bloom for up to four months on vines that only grow 4 to 5 feet long. This clematis is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, although the container should be protected over the winter in cold areas.
($15 for the vine on

5. Sweet Pea Vine

Wikipedia/CC BY 3.0
The small blossoms of the perennial Sweet Pea vine or Lathyrus latifolusactually look like dozens of tiny orchids (about 1 inch in diameter). But unlike orchids, they are ready to face the elements of your balcony or terrace.
Contrary to the Clematis, the sweet pea vine is no new kid on the block., "It is an heirloom vine, which Thomas Jefferson grew, enjoyed, and called 'everlasting pea' in his day."
For more Sweet Pea tips, check out Success with Sweet Peas on ($3 for one seed pack with three colors; minimum order three at

Device Turns Your Sneaker into a Portable Cell Phone Charger

By: Megan Treacy

We write a lot about solar powered gadgets and chargers, but the reality is there is also a ton of power to harness from our own bodies. Piezoelectric chargers pop up every now and then but this one seems especially promising.
At the first ever Kenyan Science Technology and Innovation Week, 24-year-old inventor Anthony Mutua showed off a technology that uses your shoe to charge your cell phone or other gadgets while you walk. We most often hear of kinetic energy harvesters embedded in sidewalks, floors or revolving doors, but this idea lets you take that energy harvesting wherever you go.
As CNET reports, Mutua inserted a very thin "crystal chip" in a sneaker that generates energy as the sole bends. The device connects to your phone via a long cable so you can charge your phone in your pocket while you stroll, or alternatively, the device can store power for charging your phone when you arrive at your destination. It can also power multiple gadgets at a time, but you'd probably have to go on a long run to generate enough power for that. Another great reason to exercise though, right?
The device can be used in any type of shoe and can be transferred from one shoe to another depending on which pair you want to wear that day.
Kenya's National Council of Science and Technology funded the project with $6,000 so far. Mutua has already patented the technology and there are plans to start commercially producing it soon at a price of $46, including a 2.5 year warranty.