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Going ‘Dutch’ with the ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ – By Vincent J. Zuzow

Going ‘Dutch’ for all of you young-ins out there in reader land was/is a term for paying your own way on a date.  This concept was invented by the male of the species for cheeping out on the cost of weekend fun, and sometimes even supported by the female of the species when she was uncomfortably making a connection with the male any closer than arm’s length… This aggressive climbing vine – ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ – lives up to ‘paying its own way’ by offering a lot of gardening qualities to the Earthen Gardener!


Dutchman s pipe 1




‘Dutchman’s pipe’ or “pipevine” – aka Aristolochia macrophylla or Aristolochia durior is a zone 4-8 climbing vine that is native to eastern North America. This shade-loving climber is a magnet  for butterflies due to the butterfly-eatable nature of the plant. Case in point; the  Pipevine is the primary food for Pipevine Swallowtail according to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).


Up, up and away!

The ‘Dutchman’ is a quick-grower, and reaches a height of 20 feet to 30 feet tall under ideal conditions. The name “Dutchman’s pipe” is derived from the unique shape and look of the flower that resembles a meerschaum pipe – think Shercock-Holmes-ish smoke-ware.


Meerschaum pipe 2c


Flowers 1 :  Leaves 10

The flower which blooms in zone 5 in June is an eye-catcher, but, alas, the interesting-shaped flower is often times obscured by the large, dense heart-shaped foliage of the leaves. So, in mid-summer you will see much more of the foliage than the buds – making the green leaf the plant’s best feature. However, if you’re looking for contrast with more delicate plants in your Earthen Garden, you will appreciate the coarse texture of these big green beauties!


Three reasons to go ‘Dutch’:





Wall of Green

Yes, it would be better if it was $100 bills, but then they would get all soggy after a couple of rains anyway.  A better solution for a mass of green color is the Aristolochia macrophylla. Lots of texture and lots of green.  Put up a trellis and create a backdrop for your shorter lovelies in the foreground.  Or cover up that chain-linked fence with a more appealing natural look. This climbing plant is very effective at hiding eyesores as well – think ugly cinder block wall – even if it’s a temporary fix for some curb appeal.


Dutchman s pipe aristolochia fence


Made in the Shade

Still got that trellis or section of lattice across your porch? Grow some climbing ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ and take yourself out of the heat of the day. The big pay-off comes from coolin’ your heels in the shade just watchin’ the world go by…

Dutchman s pipe close

Private eyes aren’t watchin’ you

Your home is your castle it’s been said.  There are enough eyes probing you all day long. Why not have more ‘me time’ back at the ranch?  You may have to live next door to that nosey neighbor, but you don’t have to look at them if you have a trellis-filled climbing garden. Wish you had a privacy fence, but your local building code says “No”?  Just say “yes” to a couple of moveable structures or trellises mounted to a wooden base, and plant ‘Dutchman’s pipe’ in a few portable containers.  Tell the ordinance officer to: “go suck on a ‘Dutchman’s pipe’…” A moveable structure should be allowed in most communities.  If you still get a hassle, you can always fairly easily move the ‘Wall of Dutchness’ to another location in the yard or (heaven forbid) to a friend’s or relative’s yard.

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