What’s the story, morning glory?

Janice Wells
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The blue of Heavenly Blue morning glories is nothing short of heavenly. Other than that, I’d probably give up on them all together.

In fact, I might anyway, after my dismal results this summer. I’m sorry to be harsh but I’ve decided that morning glories are troublesome plants and may just have to be banished from my garden.

If, in fact, I can banish them. I’ve planted them many times over the years; Heavenly Blues all but one time (when I succumbed to a magenta-ish purple before I’d realized that the blue is what morning glories are all about for me) and they’ve never come back a second year. I never expected them to because they’re annuals and I’ve personally never known them to be re-seeders.

Daughter No. 2 planted some last year, as a quick annual cover for a high lattice deck foundation, and lo and behold, some of them came back this year. She wasn’t unhappy about it because this expanse of lattice is at the top of a steep bank and is almost inaccessible to a mountain goat, never mind a pregnant woman or her less than agile mother.

There are hollyhocks there, and clematis, but the morning glories behaved themselves and stuck to winding on the lattice instead of the other plants.

Of course, they’re all but finished now, but I’ve just gotten a delayed picture from Kay King in Happy Adventure of one of her morning glories which got me wondering why mine did so poorly and why Daughter’s came back, and is that common?

The troublesomeness of my morning glories this year began before I even bought the plants, because they were already about 18 inches long and, of course, all tangled up with each other and whatever happened to be growing in the pots next to them.

The same thing happens with clematis and anything else with a twining habit, and I always wonder why do nurseries keep these things so close together? Surely interspersing them between flats of low growing groundcovers or any low annuals wouldn’t be so hard?

But anyway, there I am, with nothing sharp to just cut free a couple of plants for myself, wishing I’d started my own from seed, so I pick the two I want and start the ridiculous task of untwining messes of tendrils. All this because one summer, years ago in Stephenville, I had my morning coffee on the front bridge surrounded by the most fabulous Heavenly Blue morning glories, and I am nothing if not a creature of nostalgia.

I planted mine in two planters I couldn’t resist at a yard sale because of their nice high backs. They quickly grew up and over the backs, but I did not see a bloom first nor last. I had good potting soil and also fed them, but nada. Zilch. Now there’s barely a leaf left while gardening buddies still have blooms.

Of course, morning glories have that name because they open in the morning sun and close in the afternoon, and my two planters are on my front verandah, which doesn’t get any morning sun or even any afternoon sun until about two o’clock. Duh.

But in my own defence, geraniums (pelargoniums haha) do well there in pots with alyssum, and we all know geraniums love sun. On the other hand, negating that defence, the geraniums were on the top of the steps and not behind the railing. That subtle difference is probably a big difference if you’re a flower in a planter.

Of course, the morning glory cousin, the relentless bindweed, has no such fussiness. It will and does grow anywhere it wants to, twining around everything in sight with its white trumpet flowers. I wonder if those bindweed flowers were a heavenly shade of blue, would we like them a bit better?

Nah, no matter how pretty it is, anything growing rampantly where you don’t want it is a weed.


Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. Her latest book, “Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Musts,” was published in October 2010 by MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc. You can reach her at

 janicew@nf.sympatico.ca. Note to readers: please do not send thumbnail-size photographs, as they are too small to publish.

Organizations: MacIntyre Purcell Publishing

Geographic location: Stephenville

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