Many fall climbers provide flashy leaf colors before the foliage falls, as well as late season flowers, and extraordinary seedheads. And, of course, there are some excellent evergreens, which provide a beautiful contrast to fiery, deciduous foliage, and are especially welcome once that has fallen.
Climbers can be grown up a wide variety of supports, including pillars and posts, trellises, walls (to which supporting wires have been attached if necessary), and trees.
Clematis. There are clematis varieties that flower in spring, summer and fall. As well as those with fall flowers, all have beautiful, long-lasting seedheads, like silvery tassels of silk. They look best when they catch the sun, often in early morning when they are covered by a few drops of dew. They have varied cultivation requirements, but all like moist, fertile, well-drained soil and most clematis prefer full sun. ‘Bill Mackenzie’ has bright yellow, thick-textured, lantern-like fall flowers, which are followed by fluffy seedheads.
Clematis tangutica is species that produces bright yellow, lantern-like flowers with poited sepals and a prominent central boss of stamens, which are borne from midsummer to fall and are followed by silky, silvery grey seedheads. There is much confusion between this species and the roughly similar C. tibetana, which will hybridize with it freely.
Hedera. These self-clinging, evergreen climbers are among the most useful of garden plants. Though the species H. helix can be too rampant, it has many desirable cultivars which are more manageable. With their glossy leaves, all ivies provide excellent evergreen cover for trellis, walls and fences, and can also do well as ground cover in the dry soil under trees where little else will grow.
Another attractive use is trailing over banks or climbing up poles and gates. From a design point of view, evergreen climbers form part of the garden structure, around which the rest of the garden changes. Green varieties of ivies are happy in shade, but variegated types need more light and protection from cold winds.
‘Dragon Claw’ is an attractive ivy with large, broad, five-lobed leaves, curling downwards, with closely fluted udges that turn red in winter. It is good for growing up walls and for ground cover. ‘Parsley Crested’ has rounded leaves that are crested at the edges and turn a beautiful bronze in cold weather. The long, strong-growing trailing stems make this a good ivy for flower arranging and hanging baskets. It looks good in a conservatory growing up a pillar or growing over an archway.
Parthenocissus. These foliage plants are grown mainly for their spectacular fall color. All the species described here cling by means of suckering pads and are excellent on walls. They need fertile, well-drained soil in shade or sun. P. henryana is sometimes called Chinese Virginia creeper. It has dark green leaves that are distinctively marked with central silvery white veins; they turn red in fall season. P. quinquefolia, Virginia creeper, has vivid flame-red fall leaf color. It is eye-catching as cover for a large wall, and can also be dramatic weaving through the branches of a large tree, such as a silver birch.
Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’
Vitis vinifera. Tenturier grape is the parent of the many varieties grown for edible crops and also of a number of purely ornamental selections. V. v. ‘Purpurea’ is one of the most widely grown. The leaves mature to purple, then develop even richer hues in the fall as the blackish, unpalatable fruits ripen. This is excellent for growing up an average size wall.