Social Climber-Cypress Vine

Set a seasonal table under a gazebo of green.

Rebecca Bull Reed
Social Climber

Social Climber
Never have we begun a garden story by suggesting you should start with luck. But that’s how this one begins. One day, a nice lady noticed that a feathery vine had taken a liking to her metal-framed gazebo. “The seeds must have blown in from somewhere, because I didn’t plant them,” she says.

Positively identified as cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), the annual climber engulfed the gazebo in just a few months, forming a space that became quite magical.

“It makes me feel like throwing a party,” says its owner, Gari Griffin of Homewood, Alabama. Here’s how we helped her create the perfect setting.

A Fabulous Fall Table
Step 1: Hang a chandelier that holds candles (try the Sirlig chandelier by IKEA) from the center of the gazebo. Then radiate red silk poppy lights (ours are from Cost Plus World Market) out from it.

Step 2: Beneath the lights, center a 52-inch round table draped with a king-size quilt (our quilt is from Bed Bath & Beyond).

Step 3: Fill a showy glazed container with ‘Cosmic Red’ and ‘Cosmic Orange’ cosmos, ornamental peppers, and roundleaf ferns (still in their pots). For the feel of fall, insert miniature pumpkins, spiked with grilling skewers, directly into the soil.

Step 4: Set plates atop berry-rimmed chargers (we used bittersweet, but pyracantha works too). Finish with folded napkins and swan gourds.

Step 5: As guests arrive, light candles, including small votives on the table and large hurricanes staged just outside the gazebo’s entrances. Enjoy!

Keep Them Under Control
Although pretty, both bittersweet and cypress vine can be invasive if unmanaged. When the party is over, bag and toss the fruit of bittersweet into the garbage―not the compost pile.

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is reportedly more invasive that the waning native, American bittersweet (C. scandens). As for cypress vine, it is easiest to pull unwanted seedlings as they emerge in early summer.