We’ve had a nice long stretch of warm weather here in Nashville, and it’s gotten me motivated to clean the leaves and cobwebs off the front porch and get to work digging in the yard. Yes, we might still have one last cold snap, but it’s hard to resist heading outside after months of gray and cold!
My mailbox area has needed something to jazz it up ever since we moved in last summer. I did my usual and planted white petunias, but those didn’t make it much past October, between the heat and the fact that they’re, well, annuals. I hung two grapevine wreaths on either side to decorate for fall, but this spring, I wanted to add some perennials to the mix.
I love the look of climbing vines that grow over a front porch. Here’s a picture of one of the houses we *almost* bought, and I loved that she was training a vine around the porch already.
Since I’m not sure we’ll be here long enough to achieve that goal on my current front porch, I decided to use a climber on the mailbox as my primary perennial. I’ll train it and trim it so it doesn’t completely take over the mailbox as it grows. Jasmine won, hands down, since it grows like a weed and smells divine.
I decided to use one of my all-time favorites for the trellis—grapevine. In fact, I used one of the wreaths I had flanking the mailbox last autumn (the other one is on my front door now with a burlap bow on it, here). Grapevine can be a pain in the rear to work with and you do have to be patient as you train it to just the right shape, but it’s a gorgeous, natural, and inexpensive way to add texture.
Here’s what I started with: one wreath, my staple gun and staples, and florists’ wire (I only wound up using one piece of this). You could also buy long zip ties and use those; black ones would have blended in perfectly with the base of my mailbox and obviously you’d want to go this route if you have a metal base to your mailbox instead of a wood one.
I pulled the wreath apart and spread out the vines a bit so they weren’t all bunched together. When you look at the wreath, you’ll see that they use one thick vine to wrap around the outside to hold everything together. Just cut this thick vine and unwind it, and the whole thing will come apart.
**Warning—this is incredibly messy. If you’re intending to use your grapevine inside, you might want to take it apart outside so you have less vacuuming to do at the end of your project.**
Then I spent about ten minutes just playing with the vine, twisting it around the mailbox and stapling it in place once I got it where I wanted it. My friend, Andrea (see the grapevine and twinkle lights she uses inside her house HERE), will sometimes soak hers in water before she works with it to make the vines more flexible. I am too impatient and usually don’t bother. Here’s what I came up with:
I then planted four pots of white candytuft–also a perennial–and a $10 pot of jasmine. Jasmine grows so quickly that I didn’t think I needed to buy a larger and more expensive plant. I trained the stems around the grapevine on the left side of the mailbox, and will continue to do that every few days as the vine grows. I also put in some white petunias and mulched. Here’s the finished product:
Grapevine wreaths go on sale at the craft stores pretty frequently, or you can always use your coupon. When we lived in Virginia Beach four years ago, I used about 20 wreaths and zip ties to decorate a metal gazebo trellis at our rental house. The canvas had rotted and molded, but the ugly frame was still there bolted to the end of our dock, so I grapevined the whole darned thing. I don’t have any pictures as that was before the blog started, but it was a great way to dress up an eyesore.
You can also use grapevine on your mantel, around your pillars (inside or outside), on top of your kitchen cabinets, or even just to decorate an empty wall. You can buy clear lights on brown wire and they blend right in…I’m considering doing grapevine with lights on my screened porch this spring. And, of course, it would make a great trellis if you’re luckily enough to be training a vine over your front porch!