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Ornamental grapes

CAN you please give me some information about ornamental grapes. I have a large deck which I would like to cover and the ornamental grape sounds perfect, but will it be cold enough in Hamilton to get a good display of autumn colour? Does the ornamental grape have fruit of any sort that would attract unwanted plagues of bees? Where can I get a specimen?


ORNAMENTAL grapes are very cold-hardy, and for a good display of autumn colour, the colder the better. However, you should still get a good display in Hamilton. They grow best in a well-drained spot exposed to as much sun as possible. Be careful though, as they can be very vigorous, so need plenty of space and a sturdy support to climb on.

My favourite is the crimson glory vine, Vitis coignetiae, which can grow up to 20m in ideal conditions. It has attractive, deeply-veined leaves which are bronzy-red when young, turning bright red to purple in autumn. Or you could try the Teinturier grape, Vitus vinifera 'Purpurea', which reaches around 10m with downygreen new growth and purple mature foliage providing a contrasting display all summer.

Most ornamental grapes produce small inedible fruits at times, but they're usually very bitter and seldom attract bees or wasps. To avoid the risk, however, you could easily snip off immature bunches of fruit in early summer.

Prune the vines in winter to encourage healthy new growth. Don't put it off until after bud burst in spring, as grape vines can bleed large quantities of sap at this time which may cause the shoots to die.

Your local garden centre may stock some varieties, or contact specialist growers Courier Climbers, PO Box 2458, Tauranga, or check out their mail order website at www.courierclimbers.co.nz.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 131, 2003, Page 26

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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