Now that you've chosen the vines you want in your garden (You have, right?) it's time to decide what you want them to climb.
Your first thought is probably a classic trellis -- one of the varieties of gridded frames available around town in all sizes and shapes, from plain wood crossbars to geometric metal to elaborate twining creations that mimic the vines themselves.
Lowe's on Tudor has a particularly nice selection this year but everybody's got something.
It's a good idea to think about what you really need before rushing into a purchase:
What are the characteristics of the vine you plan to grow -- does it need firm support or will another plant work?
Does it twine around its support, grab onto it with little tendrils, or adhere with sticky pads?
Will you be cutting it back in the fall or do you have to leave it alone during the winter because it grows back on the old vines -- the ones that look dead but aren't?
There are general "rules" for vines, but it's your garden so you should break any rule you want and try whatever grabs you. Especially anything that will save time, work and money.
As experienced gardeners tell us, everything works for everyone once in a while.
A sunny spot, with a firm support behind that also provides protection from wind is what the books usually recommend. Unless it's an arbor, you rarely see a well established vine growing on a flat trellis stuck in the middle of the garden.
Up against the south face of the house is very popular. As is along that boring or ugly fence. And wouldn't it be nice to cover that utilitarian tool shed in golden hop leaves?
How about vining something interesting through the hedge, or up that tree, especially something with pretty flowers -- morning glory or cathedral bells (cobaea) -- for variety among the green?
Once again, the message is that vines are fun and an opportunity to let your fancy take flight.
Landscape architect Elise Huggins rarely uses an actual trellis for the vines she plants. Her favorite practice is to re-purpose hardware and construction elements into vine supports that are interesting on their own -- garden art.
Her kiwi climbs cables fastened with eyebolts and held taut by wedge-shaped small-boat anchors. She's currently re-doing the corner near her office in the Fire Island bakery on G Street She's going to try both kiwi and grape vines up the outside of the one-story building, using arched rebar.
OK, Elise is a professional, and she actually knows what an eyebolt is; but anything that stands upright or can be attached to a support is a potential "trellis."
How about an old window frame? Half an old wooden ladder fastened to a wall? Any kind of post or twisted metal?
You can wrap a durable rope or thick-gauge wire around anything and fasten the vine with twists as it grows.
If you're not sure something will work, try it out this year with an annual vine and nothing important is lost if it fails.
Do you have sticks you can turn into a teepee by tying the tops together? Teepees are great for sweet peas -- one of the more colorful flowering vines out there. If you don't want to build, you can buy one relatively cheaply -- Sutton's has bamboo and Mill & Feed has metal.
Remember when you're attaching a frame of any kind to a house or wall, tendril climbers have to be fastened here and there to their supports.
Twining vines generally don't, but either way, you need a little space between the "trellis" and the wall.
During the next week, before you plant outside (finally), check out scrap heaps (do we have those here?), second-hand stores and the construction section of the hardware store.
If you don't find something fun and interesting, you can always get a commercial trellis.
In addition to the mass-produced ones available at local nurseries and hardware stores, a couple of local artists produce metal garden art that is wonderful for vines.
Some can be found for sale at the Botanical Garden spring fair in June.