Plants For Particular Aspects – A north-facing wall in total shade will be colder than other parts of the garden. Even plants that tolerate these conditions will grow more slowly than they would in other areas. ln the main, plants grown for their foliage are better on north-facing walls than those grown for their flowers.
There are a few flowering plants suitable for such walls. They include the evergreen climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris), which will climb a large wall without help and produce lace-cap hydrangea flowers that turn a pretty tan color as they fade and last into winter.
Yellow foxgloves with blue hosta in the shade garden
Shade plants often have bigger leaves than other plants. They include hostas, foxgloves, bergenias, ferns and euphorbias.
The climbing rose ‘Guinee’, with its deepest red flowers and rather sparse leaves will do well on a north wall, as will the almost thornless white rose ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’. This rose has a first flush of flowers in early summer and keeps on flowering, although less profusely, for the rest of the season.
East-facing walls are very difficult. After a frost the early morning sun may damage the buds of otherwise hardy rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias.
Good climbing plants to grow include Actinidia kolomikta, which has large heart-shaped green leaves with cream and pink variegations. The color will not show on young plants or old plants grown in too much shade. Virginia creeper is another good climber for an east-facing wall and the feathery yellowy-green flowers of Alchemilla mollis will liven up the area nearer to the ground.
South-facing walls are hot and dry. Silver, scented Mediterranean-type plants and plants from Australia and New Zealand will thrive in this sort of area. There is a wide choice of suitable plants, including the asters and other daisies, many herbs and many plants with colorful flowers.
Passiflora caerulea with exotic flowers and fruits
West-facing walls are the kindest. They get the evening sunlight and suffer less from frost. Here you can grow delicate and exotic plants that need shelter. These often come from places like California and include the bright yellow, wall-trained fremontodendron, the Ceanothus family with their clouds of bright blue flowers and Passiflora caerulea, the hardiest of the passion flowers with its strange exotic blooms and oval orange fruits.
Carpenteria californica is an evergreen shrub from California, which produces an astonishing display of large, yellow-centered white flowers in summer. It may become a little shabby-looking after a cold spell, but soon recovers its good looks.