RoseWallAs I write today we have some rain in Norfolk (nothing dramatic, just a steady drip) – after three weeks of virtually nothing! I can almost hear the plants saying aahhhh….

Looking through my inbox I’ve come across another interesting question which I’ll use for this week’s GQT:

‘I would like to train some climbers on the wall of my house but do not want to use too many nails. What is the best way to go about it?’

So writes Salome St. John from Headon Platter in Cumbria. Well Salome, there are probably two good ways of tackling this. For small areas and plants which are not too heavy once fully grown, you can put up trellis. For larger areas and for supporting plants which can become very heavy over time (e.g. Wisteria) it might be best to put up a permanent wire – support system. Trellis can be attached to the wall with screws and plastic plugs after you have drilled holes with a masonry drill. To support wires, plug the wall in the same way and screw large ‘vine eyes’ into them – these should be about 1 – 1.2metres apart and at vertical intervals of about 450 – 600mm. Plastic covered or galvanised wires can then be threaded through the vine eyes and tensioned by means of tensioning bolts at one end.

Have you ever thought about using climbers in your borders?

You can train clematis or roses to add height to your borders by using rustic poles about 3m tall- these provide the least obtrusive supports. Dig a hole and/or ram in the posts so that they are at least 450mm, and preferably 600mm in the ground. Paint them before you put them in with a good wood preservative or one of the brightly coloured outdoor paints if you want them to stand out a bit more or tone in with other structures/furniture. A few cross – pieces will help support the plants that can be trained along them. Alternatively you can go for the ‘cottage garden’ look of  swags – these are basically thick ropes or other material (e.g chains) slung between the posts and along which roses can be trained. These make a great not – too – intrusive divider in the garden as well as being a good way of adding height to a border. Other options for adding height to a border are obelisks, which we use here in the Old School Garden to support runner beans and sweet peas.

Add height to your borders with a simple post, plus mesh for Clematis to clamber up

Add height to your borders with a simple post, plus mesh for Clematis to clamber up

Clematis can also be supported on tubes of special clematis netting: 2 metre lengths of netting are nailed to 2.4 metre stakes, which are hammered 600mm into the ground. This support is really only suitable for those late summer -flowering varieties which can be cut back in spring to keep them to a reasonable size.

Here at Old School Garden I’ve used panels of heavy-duty trellis to provide a screen for an oil tank and other things I want to hide and then trained clematis up this tying it in as it produces new growth. You can use all sorts of other climbers in the same way, but be careful you don’t go for those that are very vigorous and which will give you maintenance problems in the future; e.g. Clematis montana, the climbing rose ‘Kiftsgate’ or Boston Ivy (which is a fast wall coverer but which unless kept in check will get under roofs etc.).

A rose trained along a rope 'swag' between posts provides a permeable divider in the garden

A rose trained along a rope ‘swag’ between posts provides a permeable divider in the garden

Home made obelisks in Old School Garden used for Runner Beans and Sweet Peas

Home made obelisks in Old School Garden used for Runner Beans and Sweet Peas and heavy duty trells in the background screening a garage and oil tank

You might also be interested in related articles on this blog:

Arbours and Pergolas in the garden- 7 top tips

Lock down- pros and cons of garden ties

Build yourself an obelisk

Old School Gardener

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