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Golden hops can grow a little too vigorously

Every summer, I monitor its meanderings and watch for any feckless forays into inappropriate places. Still, every year the thing escapes my attentions enough to flaunt its vigour.

Every summer, I monitor its meanderings and watch for any feckless forays into inappropriate places. Still, every year the thing escapes my attentions enough to flaunt its vigour. Two of its rough, raspy arms have ventured onto nearby shelving to ensnare a cup handle. More have twined winsomely up broom handles.

I can't imagine the rampaging ruckus my golden hops (Humulus lupulus 'Aureus') vine would create if it were not confined to a 30-centimetre wide pot sitting on rocks at the base of a house wall.

My much-used reference from Heritage Perennials, Perennial Gardening Guide, notes that hops vines grow three to six metres high and can become "somewhat invasive."

I appreciate the vine's minimum-maintenance needs. The stems die down conveniently to the ground in autumn and regrow in spring. Clear away dead top growth in winter, top up the soil with compost and stand back. I simply water regularly in summer.

I've just been sent a trial plant of a new golden hops not yet released on the market. It's a more compact version than 'Aureus,' more "refined looking" and good for small gardens. I'll soon have just the place for it.

I've decided to empty a small bed impossibly filled with tree roots from a neighbouring wall of forest trees. Two sides of the beds have post and wire supports at the edges. One will be for the new hops vine, the other for another trial plant, a new Virginia creeper. The rest of the bed will be levelled and covered thickly with newspaper and wood shavings. Next summer, the space will be a semienclosed garden "room," with chairs in which to while away my mostly fictitious leisure time.

Hoya news. Last year I wrote about a hoya plant bequeathed to me by the family of an acquaintance who had died. Her name was Happy.

It was mid-autumn and still mild. The plant was massive, congested and harbouring wildlife. Uncertain how to proceed with this delicate situation, I stashed the plant for a few days in the shelter of the carport. As colder weather threatened, and having no suitable space indoors for the whole plant, I went for cuttings. I clipped off seven healthy-looking stem end shoots, washed them meticulously and firmed them gently into a planting mix with a little bagged, sterilized soil added.

To my surprise, and even though hoyas are best rooted in late summer, every cutting rooted and grew. I gave away most of the rooted plants, some to a friend I'd met through Happy. I kept two, one to give at some point to a friend who was looking for a new house.

The plant I'm keeping for the friend recently produced a bloom cluster, which slowly opened to a rounded, umbrella-shaped formation of white, powerfully fragrant, waxy flowers with red centres. I was thrilled. Soon I'll be delivering an extra-Happy hoya to my friend in her new home.

Handy plant supports. My thanks to those who responded to a column at the beginning of the month featuring a question about half-circle plant supports. These are the easiest to use and most efficient supports I've ever used, and there are local suppliers of them.

Diane wrote that Lee Valley Tools has them in their Victoria store in spring and summer. The product is called "Half circle support." This item is not listed in the Lee Valley catalogue.

Faye, from Russell Nursery on Wain Road in North Saanich, tells me that the nursery carries a new, locally made version of the supports, called Handy Hoops, available in a wide variety of widths and heights. Made of metal, they "rust to a lovely burnished colour if left in the garden all year."

Mozi-Q. With people complaining about mosquito bites this summer, I was interested to receive information on a new homeopathic product that reduces both the frequency of bites and the reactions that people have to them. The product works within 30 minutes of taking it, with no side effects. It can be taken (orally) every three to five hours, starting before you go outside.

Considered a safe and effective alternative to repellent sprays, Mozi-Q is approved by Health Canada (DIN-HM #80031902) and is sold in The Vitamin Shop in Victoria and in the Ladysmith Health Foods Store on 1st Ave. When I called the Ladysmith store, I was told they are hearing from happy customers having good results from the product.

For more information, including what is in the product, visit Mozi-Q.com.

hchesnut@bcsupernet.com