August 15, 2022

Yellow trumpet vine

By Curt Swarm

We have a yellow trumpet vine. Not the standard orange trumpet vine that you see a lot of, but yellow.

There was a huge growth of it just west of New London a few years ago. It was beautiful when flowered out, the pretty yellow horns seeming to trumpet to the world. I stopped to get a start from this yellow trumpet vine, also called Monrovia, hummingbird vine, or Campsis radicans. There were all kinds of suckers growing up. A lady in the house came out and told me to help myself, but cautioned me. She said the trumpet vine was very invasive. Seeing all the starts growing up, I could see what she meant.

Anywho, I brought the starts home and planted a couple around an electrical pole in our front yard. After five years of agonizing slow growth, it finally bloomed this year. Ginnie and I are so pleased. We had just about given up. But I seemed to remember that trumpet vine is a late summer bloomer. Sure enough. Maybe it will attract hummingbirds?

Googling yellow trumpet vine, I’m shocked to read that it is poisonous to dogs. How can this be if hummingbirds love it? As a kid, my mother showed my sister and me how to pull the “trumpet” off the vine and suck the nectar out (straining ants through our teeth). Oh, so sweet — one of my favorite childhood memories, next to gorging ourselves on mulberries while staining our hands and cheeks purple and red.

I’m so glad I got this start of yellow trumpet vine growing in our yard. During that derecho a couple of years ago, the wind tore out that big bush of yellow trumpet vine outside of New London. It’s gone. But its offspring lives on, hopefully to grow into the big bush like its parent, welcoming all visitors to the Empty Nest Farm.

The yellow trumpet vine may be our one bright spot of this spring and summer’s growing season. It rained all through May, so I didn’t even get the garden tilled until the first of June. I quick like threw in some tomato plants, Indian corn, pumpkins and sunflowers. Then we left for Yellowstone. Coming home, both Ginnie and I contracted COVID and I was down and out for another three weeks, not being able to do much of nothing. Consequently the garden grew up in weeds. Discouraged, I just mowed it all off, except for one cherry tomato plant. So, no garden. Oh, well. It might do the garden good to lie fallow for a year. Like me — ha!

While we were sick, the Japanese Beetles did a wholesale frontal assault on our aronia bushes. I was finally able to muster up enough strength to spray the bushes in time to save them. I forgot about our McIntosh apple tree. The Japanese Beetles stripped it. I don’t think the apples will be any good. Criminy! We like to make apple sauce in the fall. And apple pie. And apple crisp. McIntosh apples are also one of the best eating apples, in my opinion.

Last fall our yard was riddled with mole tunnels. I set a mole trap, but I don’t think it did much good. A friend advised us on how to use the mole poison. I bought some (it’s sort of pricy) and was ready to do battle with the moles this spring. Lo-and-behold, the mole(s) disappeared! I can’t believe it. Here I am ready to do battle and they (it) just up and vamoosed. What gives?

I wish I could say the same for the chipmunks. At one time there were dozens of them chasing each other around and digging holes in our yard. I just about have them eradicated now, but I still see one or two occasionally, taunting me. Grrr. Ginnie thinks they’re cute (they are) and wants me to save them. Maybe I’ll let the remaining few live their life and try to keep them from multiplying. Like the trumpet vine, they too are invasive.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com