clematis ground coverAn interesting question this week, from a Trevor Arzan of Nether Wallop:

‘Some of the stems on my Clematis have fallen down and are growing along the ground, where they seem to be doing quite well. Can this or any other climber be used as ground cover?’

Clematis make very good ground cover plants as do the yellow-veined honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Aureo -reticulata’) and the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris). Many roses, especially ramblers, can also be used in this way.

So turn what you might use as climbers into creepers!

And climbers are also useful for covering ugly tree stumps. The less vigourous ivies are ideal for this job. Choose one of the varieties of common ivy (Hedera helix) with prettily marked leaves, such as ‘Glacier’ in grey and white, ‘Buttercup’ with young leaves entirely yellow, or ‘Adam’ with white-margined green leaves. I’ve used this approach ona tallish Cherry Tree stump in Old School Garden and the ivies can even look attractive climbing up living tree trunks. And I’ve also used ivy as ground cover with mixed results- if ground elder is present it’s a devil to get this out without completely destroying the ivy, still Ivy is pretty tough and will re-establish.

It’s also worth trying ‘Dutchman’s Pipe’ (Aristolochia macrophylla), with enormous leaves and yellow and purple pipe-shaped flowers. Schizophragma hydrangeoides, with it hydrangea-like  flowers in creamy white, does very well on old stumps and is self clinging.

ivy cherry tree

Ivy growing up from ground cover to girdle the trunk of a cherry tree in Old School Garden

Old School Gardener

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