We have a five-leaf akebia ‘Chocolate Vine” (Akebia quinata) we’ve had growing on the arbor that forms a wall of my patio for around 15 years. It’s got small leaves which contrast nicely with its arbor neighbor (and competitor for space) – the large, heart-shaped leafed Dutchman’s Pipe.
The Chocolate Vine gets small, popcorn-shaped, purple flowers in the late spring. I’ve read that the blooms are chocolate scented, but I’ve never found that to be true. For me, its most distinguishing feature is the runners it sends out all over the place. They get quite long and snake along the ground if not trained up the arbor.
A few years ago I started making wreaths from them. In the fall I gather up any runners. They’re very pliable and don’t break or snap easily. I can shape them and then leave them to dry overwinter in the potting shed.
One set of wreaths I wrapped in white Christmas lights and made them “chandeliers” in the shed, because, well, if you’ve seen my shed, you know it requires chandeliers. Another set of wreaths I just have hanging in the shed, with no current plans beyond that.
Last November, I made a globe-y shaped ball. I posted about it here.
A few weeks back, I bought an outdoor spotlight ($6.99!) and bulb ($3) and made a hanging light over my picnic table with the vine sphere (I made the picnic table too!). I used an old flagpole I had laying around to hang it from. It provides a nice glow over the table – all for only $10!
This year I’ll make small balls of vines – lots of them – and dangle them from my river birch.