Planting Climbers In Mediterranean Garden – One thing you see lots of in Mediterranean gardens is climbers. They grow them up the walls or over a pergola on the back of the house – some of the pergolas are wonderful, with the ’roof’ just made out of rough branches all tangled with knobbly grape-vines and bunches of fruit dripping down.
In the Mediterranean they are useful for cooling the garden down, as without them the rendered walls of the villas reflect so much heat and light the gardens would be unbearable. But at home they just soften the look. It’s beautiful to see a huge mish-mash of climbers all jostling for space on trellis, up walls or just shinning up into trees.
They are also a great way of covering structures like an old shed or a trendy creeper-clad tunnel. Being big, climbers fill up a lot of room, so it only takes a few plants to make a garden that looks stylish but doesn’t need a lot of looking after.
Think Mediterranean and say the name of the first climber that comes into your head. It’s a grape-vines! Grapes make brilliant climbers for walls, arches, or on a pergola — they look good growing up rustic poles, brick pillars, or sophisticated Italian-style twisted stone columns. Anywhere so long as it’s sunny. What’s good about grape-vines is that they create lots of shade, and make a really lovely relaxing place to sit underneath. You can hack them back early in spring when they get too big.
There are several varieties that will give you good bunches of grapes that will ripen outside so they are sweet enough to eat straight off the vine towards the end of summer. But a lot of the outdoor grapes sold are really only good tor making wine, and their grapes taste a bit sour it you eat them.
However you use climbers at home, they are only as good as their roots – so that’s why it’s important to plant them properly. Climbers often have problems because the soil in the places we grow them tends to be full of builders’ rubble and foundations, so you need to make better preparations than you would for just planting a shrub down the garden.
Planting climbers in Mediterranean gardens
- Dig plenty of well-rotted compost or manure into the soil, and if you are planting against a wall don’t just do the place you are planting in – prepare the whole border in front of the wall so the climber has plenty of good soil to grow into. Then dig a hole, tip the plant out of its pot and put it in. Most climbers should be planted so that the top of the rootball ends up level with the surface of the surrounding soil, but if you are planting clematis put them in deeper, so that the top of the rootball is 4 to 6 inches underground. This means the plant can send out new shoots from below ground if the top gets killed off by disease or over-enthusiastic hoeing.
- If you are planting a climber against a wall, it’ll need something to grow up – it’s actually easier to put up some trellis before putting the plant in. Tie or wind the stems around the trellis, as even self-twining climbers need help getting going.