Morning glories around the bird feeder"At the house with morning glories" is an old Romanian folk song about a young man's love in vain for his love, who lived in a house covered with morning glories. "At the house with morning glories, where we used to meet at dawn/Love came slowly through poppies and cornflowers, with the first thrills. You broke up with me and you never wanted to see me again/Now I'm crying and wonder why you don't want to come anymore. I've waited for you today and you never came/I'll be always waiting for you because it's so hard without you. Honey, I'd like you to know how much I love you/Just to see you one more time, it'll be a wish come true."

Since my childhood when I listened to that song, I've always imagined the morning glories growing on that house and wanted to have - if not a house with morning glories - at least some vines on my balcony. I was impressed by the lyrics, but mostly by the symbolism. Legend says that morning glories symbolize love in vain, according to the language of flowers - that explains the title of the song.

Morning glory vine in my balconyI've seen many houses covered with bushy morning glory vines during Morning glories climbing up on a wire tied up to my balconysummer, wherever I traveled around my country, especially in the countryside. But even in the city, gardeners sow morning glories in their window boxes and ty up threads on the balconies for the vines to climb up.

Once grown, they look like a green living curtain, with nice, colorful flowers every morning. I did the same in my former apartment in Bucharest, but also in the block's garden. I've picked up morning glory seeds from the places I visited and saved them in paper envelopes and match boxes, with their names and colors written on it. I enjoyed having so many colors in my garden and on my balcony! Those I grew on my balcony didn't always fare well during the summer because some insects would come on them and ruin their beautiful foliage.

Later I wanted our house to look like those I've seen and like the one described in the folksong, with lots of morning glory vines climbing up the fence or anywhere they can. I must admit it's not so pretty to see vines climbing onto the roses or other plants, which is why I frequently try to "guide" the morning glories to climb up the fence, if possible.

Morning glories on my fence Purple morning glories climbing on the barbeque grill Magenta morning glories on the fence

Morning glories are a species of flowering plants in the Convolvulaceae family, whose taxonomy and systematics are in flux. Pink morning glories on my fenceMorning glories on the fence in the vegetable gardenThey are actually herbaceous annual or perennial twining lianas, native to the tropics. The most known and largest genus is Ipomoea. The Latin name comes from the Greek words 'ipos' meaning 'worm' and 'homoios' meaning 'resembling', referring to their twining habit. Another well-known genus is Convolvulus, in which is included the most common weed Convolvulus arvensis, called lesser bindweed. [1] I have many of these in my garden, climbing tight on my fence, or on any plant they can, almost choking them. They are pretty, but there are so many of them, and they choke out other plants! Morning glories have heart-shaped leaves, stems covered with hairs and trumpet-shaped flowers of various diameters, from 3 to 9 cm (1.2 to 3.5 inches). The Ipomoea genus includes many species and among those in my garden are the best-known.

Ipomoea purpurea is the common morning glory species, native to Mexico and Central America. Flowers are mostly purple, but also pink, white or magenta, with a white inner neck and white stigma and anthers. The seed pods are round and contain four black triangular seeds when ripe.

Pink common morning glory Magenta common morning glory Purple common morning glory

Ipomoea tricolor is another morning glory species, also called Mexican morning glory. Its leaves are spirally arranged and the flowers are larger in diameter than those of Ipomoea purpurea. The most common color of its flowers is blue, with a yellow inner neck. Buds are thinner and longer than those of the common morning glory - seem like elongated and spiralled. Seed pods are also different - not round, but elongated and tightly held in the peduncle in the lower part. They have a small tip coming out of the pod in the upper part.

Ipomoea tricolor vine with flowers, buds and seed pods Ipomoea tricolor flower Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly blue' with buds

Ipomoea nil, also called Japanese morning glory, has three-lobed leaves and large flowers, and come in a wide array of different colors. Many new hybrids have been created, and some have white stripes or edges. The seed pods are round, but much bigger than the common ones, as are the seeds.

Ipomoea nil blue with white edge Ipomoea nil flowers and leaves Japanese morning glory vine on my fence

Ipomoea sloteri 'Cardinal red'

Ipomoea x multifida, or Ipomoea sloteri, also called Cardinal climber, is a hybrid between I. coccinea (scarlet morning glory) and I. quamoclit (cypress vine). Leaves are deeply-lobed, deep green, with crimson red flowers. The flowers have five overlapped petals that form a swept-back pentagon.

Morning glory seedlings I planted in my gardenThe first morning glories I brought to my garden were seedlings I had grown from seeds, before we moved in. I had lots of seeds saved in matchboxes, ready to be sown in my future garden. At first I started four seedlings of Ipomoea purpurea, just as big as ready to climb. I planted them near the wire fence on which they climbed, covering it almost totally with their leaves. Soon the blooms started to show up every morning: small pink, large pink, purple and magenta. They reseeded, so the next spring lots of morning glories sprouted from the seeds which had fallen on the ground the Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly blue' vine in my gardenprevious summer. I also sowed more colors I already had, such as blue with white edge - the Japanese morning glories Ipomoea nil and sky blue Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue' hybrid.

As I wanted to have all the fence covered with morning glory vines, I dug out some of the sprouts and planted them along the fence. Those reseeded too and not only inside my garden, but also outside, where I have my vegetable garden. Now, every spring I have to fight those numerous seedlings popping out through beans and cucumber vines, or climbing on the tomatoes and peppers.

Morning glories on my fence Morning glories growing outside the fence

'Heavenly blue' morning glory vine on my front fence

Some years ago I also had seeds of the cardinal climber and the beautiful vines covered a fence in my former garden at my old building in the city. Unfortunately, the cardinal red, the Japanese and 'Heavenly Blue' don't reseed as well as the common morning glories, so I had to sow each of those every spring, but they didn't do well in the summer. Sometimes accidents happened, such as Minnie, my doggie, digging out the cardinal red seedlings, before they even start to bloom; that happened last spring. Last fall an unexpected freeze came in September, before I had the chance to pick up the dried seed pods from the beautiful Ipomoea tricolor vine growing on my fence. After the freeze almost all the pods looked alike and I had difficulty in chosing the dried ones. The seeds I sent to my friend in Arizona didn't sprout, which was upsetting and disappointing.

This spring I chose to sow all the Japanese and 'Heavenly Blue' morning glory seeds I had and see what would come out. So far so good, regarding the Japanese species. They aren't blooming yet, although they've covered the fence with huge leaves and vines. I've been watering them very well, but just recently found out that morning glories don't need too much moisture; otherwise they don't bloom so well, but just develop lots of leaves - there was my answer! I'll be waiting patiently for the seed pods to dry and if they don't have the chance, well, then I will have to renew my morning glory seed supply, especially with the most sensitive ones. I might get new colors and species. After all I have lots of unused vertical space in my garden!

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morning_glory