Climbing plants have many different uses in the garden. Climbing plants can be trained to cascade over walls, fences or statues, or to climb up and over trellises and entrances. They are a valuable landscaping tool that add a little extra color, liveliness and texture to a garden.
Climbing plants are an excellent option for your garden for a variety of reasons: they hide ugly corners and lend more privacy to your environment creeping their way up arches, pergolas and gazebos. Their variations in height are important for a strong and impactful garden display; and to the smaller gardens they are a wonderful opportunity to have a strong floral display growing upwards thus creating your very own lush green wall. Their depth lends a sense of visual perspective to the garden. There are many climbing plants suitable for any garden situation:
Shady places in the garden
1. Hydrangea petiolaris – This deciduous climber is native to the rural areas of Japan and the Korean peninsula and it is ideally suited for the north western quadrant of the garden, as it thrives in morning sun and afternoon shade. In the summertime it will reward diligence with fertile and numerous white, lace-cap blooms that turn coppery and stay on the plant well into winter. You can expect it to reach heights of 15 metres, however it is recommended that you aid it’s growth with garden ties, as this species suffers from quite weak rootlets. For this reason trellis may be needed if the wall itself is barren of holds for the plant to attach to.
2. Pyracantha – Evergreen wall or fence shrub with nasty thorns – good for keeping people out! ‘The Firethorn’, as it is commonly known, is actually a vertical shrub and has long been employed as means of bordering a garden due to it’s dense foliage and defensive thorns, however as a vertical addition it also provides an array of colour and interest to a garden. For example, once their white blooms have shed they will bear orange, red and yellow berries both admired as an autumn decoration and loved by the birds.
3. Clematis montana – Here is a species most will be familiar with, the beautiful Clematis flower is all but an institution among Britain’s green-fingered, though a fragile one as the stems can be quite brittle, so care is needed when training it in. This climber will flower profusely with pink or white flowers in spring and again later in the year, albeit more sparsely. In the lull period it will provide attractive emerald, and sometimes purple tinted, foliage.
Sunny spots in the garden
1. Roses – Perhaps the most famous of flowering plants, this perennial climber will thrive in full sun and will reward the gardener with large, colourful and often very fragrant flowers. It is important in very sunny conditions to ensure the plant is well watered and the soil rich, artificially enhanced if necessary with the aid of compost or well-rotted manure. Providing the right conditions will keep the plant healthy and reduce the risk of disease.
2. Campsis – ‘The Trumpet Vine’ comes in two varieties, the south east American radicans and the Chinese grandiflora, either will thrive in a British garden when afforded enough sunlight. Their most attractive feature is the brightly coloured, orange or yellow flowers for whose shape they are named, they are also extremely sought after by bird species and will aid the wildlife population of your space.
3. Trachelospermum jasminoides – The ‘Evergreen Jasmine’ makes a good alternative to regular Jasmine, which can look a bit untidy in the winter months. This one has shiny dark green foliage and the same, highly scented, starry, white flowers all summer long.
Exposed positions in the garden
1. Wisteria – A member of the pea family, this hardy climber will attach to any support you can provide and is popular in rooftop gardening for it’s durability. It will bear fragrant, lilac, purple or white flowers that form with an appearance much like hanging grapes and, once established, will continue to do so for many years. Best in a west-facing position.
2. Parthenocissus – ‘Virginia Creeper’ – Similarly to the Trumpet Lily, this genus is very popular among birds and will attract them to any garden that houses it. It is grown mainly for it’s spectacular rich autumn colours and, due to it’s prevalent nature, it will quickly cover unsightly fences and other artificial structures you may wish to conceal. However, just watch it doesn’t get into your gutters and under roof tiles!
3. Hedera (Ivy) – For hardiness and an ability to deal with almost all situations, you can’t really beat good old ivy. Available in a variety of leaf sizes and colours, including some very attractive variegated types, like the Virginia Creeper, it will quickly cover any unattractive boundaries or buildings. However, also like the Virginia Creeper, it climbs by clinging on with tiny suckers, so can cause damage to walls and roofs if not kept in check.