Tag Archive: climber

Convolvulus tricolor
Convolvulus tricolor

A genus of about 200-250  shrubby annual, perennial herbaceous and rock plants, the name Convolvulus comes from  the latin convolvo, referring to the twining habit of some species. It is widely distributed around the world and is commonly known as Bindweed and Morning Glory, both names shared with other closely related genera.

Growing to 0.3–3 m tall, their leaves are spirally arranged, and the flowers trumpet-shaped, mostly white or pink, but blue, violet, purple or yellow in some species.

Many of the species are problematic weeds, which can swamp other more valuable plants by climbing over them, but some are also cultivated for their attractive flowers. Some species are globally threatened. Convolvulus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera.

Other species names include:

C. althaeoides – like an Althaea (hollyhock)- referring to the flowers

C. cantabrica Cantabria, Spain

C. cneorum – meaning is obscure, from the greek Kneoron, a plant

C. lineatus – with lines

C. mauritanicus – of Mauretania (Morocco)

C. nitidus – somewhat glossy

C. soldanella – leaves like a Soldanella

C. tenuissimus – most slender

C. tricolor – three- coloured

C. althaeoides- from Flora Graeca
C. althaeoides- from Flora Graeca

Sources and further information:


RHS- growing C. sabatius

RHS- growing C. cneorum

Old School Gardener

PicPost: Sherry Amour

Grapevines in Jerez, Spain

Rosa rubiginosa- a wild or species rose that needs minimal pruning
Rosa rubiginosa- a wild or species rose that needs minimal pruning

This week’s gardener’s question comes from a Miss Flora Dunmore of Argyll, and focuses on roses:

‘I’ve just inherited a big garden with lots of different roses, icncuding bush, climbers and ramblers. Can you tell me why, when and how to prune these, please?’

Flora, what a lovely inheritance! First why do you prune:

  • to remove weak, spindly and diseased shoots

  • to encourage strong new shoots to grow from the base of the plant each year (these bear the best flowers)

  • to open out the centre of the bush to increase air circulation (this helps to check disease)

  • to create a pleasing (usually symmetrical) outline to the plant.

When to prune depends on the types of roses you have:

  • For large-flowered bush roses the traditional months are March in the south and April in the north of England (and possibly even later in Scotland), when growth is just beginning- but pruning can be done safely any time from November  onwards in the south, provided you are prepared, if necessary to remove some frost damaged growth in spring. Most importantly never prune during a frosty spell.

  • For ramblers the best time to prune is after flowering, probably late August (you can dead head throughout the flowering season to achieve much the same result)

  • For climbers, the best time is October, when the recurrently flowering types have finished their show, but it can be done later if the weather is mild.

The techniques for pruning vary according to the type of rose:

For large flowered, bush roses cut away completely any diseased,weak and spindly shoots as well as removing all dead stumps from earlier pruning (use a fine toothed saw if they are particularly woody and thick). If there are many canes criss-crossing in the centre then remove a few to open out the bush. If two shoots are growing so that they rub each other, remove one. Finally, cut the remaining shoots back to about 200-250mm long. Harder pruning than this will produce larger, but probably fewer flowers – but it won’t harm the rose.

For smaller, cluster-flowered roses do the same as for larger flowered varieties but leave  the main shoots 300-350mm long. If the main shoots have side shoots, the latter don’t need to be removed, provided they are fairly thick (say about a pencil thickness), but they should be cut back by about two-thirds of their length.

Climbers should be pruned to establish a permanent framework of significant branches from which flowering stems are produced. To achieve this cut back side shoots to one or two buds from the point where they branch out from the main shoots. If the plant has become bare at the base, cut one of it’s main shoots hard back to encourage new growth from ground level.

Ramblers need to be pruned to encourage flowering on young shoots that grow from the base of the plant each year. To achieve this cut out completely the side shoots that have finished flowering and tie in the new shoots in their place. If in some years there are only a few of these, some of the old shoots (which can still produce flowers) may be left in place, but their side shoots should be shortened by about two-thirds.

Rambling roses need a framework of stems establishing with selctive removal of the oldest to encourage new growth form the base and flowering shoots pruned after flowering

Rambling roses need a framework of stems establishing, with selective removal of the oldest to encourage new growth from the base and flowering shoots pruned after flowering

Miniature Roses which produce a thick tangle of tiny, wiry shoots, require these to be thinned out. Remove dead or diseased shoots and trim back the rest by about two-thirds. It may be difficult to find a bud to cut back to, so just clip them over so that they look neat.

Shrub roses vary enormously in size and type, so it’s difficult to give a general guide to pruning. Wild (species) roses should not be pruned at all, other than for removal of dead or diseased branches. Most of the old garden roses such as Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Centifolias and Bourbons will give more flowers if they have their side shoots shortened by about two-thirds in winter. Modern shrub roses that are in fact like giant versions of the smaller cluster types should be pruned in a similar way to those – but reduce their height by only about two-thirds. The Rugosa family needs little if any pruning, although for the less dense kinds,  a few older canes cut back every two-three years will encourage bushiness.

If you have newly planted roses then you should prune them even harder than established plants so that a strong framework of new shoots will be built up for the beginning. Leave their shoots only about 50-75mm long. Prune autumn planted roses when you do your established ones and spring planted ones at planting time. But, don’t prune climbers at all in their first year, as they take longer to establish.

Pruning cuts are easiest with secateurs. Ensure that a clean cut is made with clean blades (these should be sterilised with surgical spirit/alcohol to avoid passing on diseases from plant to plant). Cuts should be made about 6mm above a bud on a shoot; the cut should slope down towards the side away from the bud. Cutting to an outward- facing bud encourages the bush to spread outwards, but don’t worry if you can’t find one exactly where you want to cut- often a bud lower down will grow away more vigourously in the direction you want, and you can always trim it back later.

Clean secateurs with surgical spirit or alcohol before pruning each rose plant
Clean secateurs with surgical spirit or alcohol before pruning each rose plant

Old School Gardener

Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera sempervirens

Lonicera (synonym Caprifolium and common names Honeysuckle or Woodbine), is a genus of arching shrubs or twining vines native to the Northern Hemisphere. There are about 180 species of honeysuckle, 100 of which occur in China, Europe, India and North America, with about 20 native species in each area.

The name Lonicera stems from Adam Lonicer, a Renaissance German botanist (1528 – 1586). He was noted for his 1557 revised version of Eucharius Rosslin’s herbal. Lonicer was born in Marburg and studied here and at the University of Mainz, and obtained his Magister degree at sixteen years of age. He became professor of Mathematics and Doctor of Medicine, becoming the town physician in Frankfurt am Main. His true interest though was herbs and the study of botany. His first important work on herbs, the Kräuterbuch, was published in 1557, a large part dealing with distillation.

Adam Lonicer

Adam Lonicer

Some species names of Lonicera include:

L. aureo – reticulata = golden veined, a variety of L. japonica

L. caprifolium = a herbalist name for a plant that climbs like a goat

L. fragrantissima = most fragrant

L. nitida = shining- the glossy leaves

L. periclymenum = to twine around, the true ‘Woodbine’ or ‘Honeysuckle’

L. pileata = having a cap, the berry being topped by a curious outgrowth of the calyx

L. sempervirens = always green

l. syringantha = the flowers resembling Syringa (Lilac)

L. xylosteum = a disused generic name from the greek xylon (wood) – the woody stems

The common honeysuckle (L. periclymenum) is a vigorous twining plant with large cartwheel-shaped flower-heads made up of rings of curved, almost tubular shaped individual flowers, which open white, but often red-flushed, for most of the summer. The plants climb rapidly up trellis or over arches, where they associate well with climbing roses or other varieties of honeysuckle. They are also superb trained up into trees or covering old tree stumps.

Sources and further information:


RHS- growing honeysuckles

BBC- Common honeysuckle

Quizzicals: answers to the two clues given in Plantax 14 …

  • Cold yearning = Chile Pine
  • How Jack Charlton refers to brother Bobby = Orchid

Old School Gardener

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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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PicPost: Balcony

jasmine-bush OK, I know that Jasmine is technically a shrub or climber and not strictly a ‘perennial’ but it is a perennial plant like all shrubs, so perhaps you’ll allow me some license on a letter of the alphabet that is decidely low on choice of ‘proper perennials’!

Jasmine (Jasminum) is a genus in the olive family (Oleaceae). It contains around 200 species native to tropical and warm temperate regions. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, and can be erect, spreading, or climbing in habit. The flowers are typically around 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in diameter, are white or yellow in colour, although in rare instances they can be slightly reddish. The flowers are borne in clusters with a minimum of three flowers, though they can also be solitary on the ends of branchlets. Each flower has about four to nine petals. They are usually very fragrant. The berry fruits of jasmines turn black when ripe.  Of the 200 species, only one is native to Europe, but a number of jasmine species have become naturalized in the Mediterranean area. For example, the so-called Spanish jasmine or Catalonian jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) was originally from Iran and south western Asia, and is now naturalized in Spain and Portugal.

Widely cultivated for its flowers, jasmine is enjoyed in the garden, as a house plant, and as cut flowers. The flowers are worn by women in their hair in southern and southeast Asia. The delicate jasmine flower opens only at night and may be plucked in the morning when the tiny petals are tightly closed, then stored in a cool place until night. The petals begin to open between six and eight in the evening, as the temperature lowers.

Symbolically, Jasmine was used to mark the Tunisian revolution of 2011 and the pro democracy protests in China of the same year. Damascus in Syria is called the ‘City of Jasmine’ and in Thailand, jasmine flowers are used as a symbol of motherhood.  Several countries have Jasmine as their national flower. ‘Jasmine’ is also a girls name in some countries.

There are many cultivars of Jasmine – for summer and winter. Jasminum officinale (summer jasmine) is perfect for a sunny, sheltered spot in mild regions of the UK. Trachelospermum jasminoides, also known as ‘Confederate’ or ‘Star Jasmine’ is a sweet-smelling vine with small white flowers. It grows quickly up walls, trellises, fences, and even thrives as ground cover, but It is especially well-suited to be grown indoors.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Trachelospermum jasminoides

The cheery yellow flowers of Jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine) will brighten up even partially shaded and cold sites at a time when little else is in flower. A popular and reliable shrub, introduced from China in 1844, and widely grown as a wall shrub, it can be allowed to scramble freely over a low wall or up a bank, or trained up a vertical framework. Unlike many other jasmines, winter jasmine does not twine, so will need tying-in if grown vertically. The stems are bright green and give an evergreen impression, even in winter when the tiny bright yellow blooms appear, weatherproof in all but the coldest snaps. Regular pruning keeps bushes under control and prevents bare patches from appearing. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).


All jasmines need a fertile, well-drained soil in full or partial sun. Summer jasmine needs a sheltered spot, full sun and a south- or south west-facing aspect. Winter jasmine is more tolerant of partial shade and a south east or north west aspect. North and north east aspects are best avoided. Frost hardy species are fine in an unheated conservatory or a cold greenhouse kept frost-free with a small heater. Tender species may require a minimum night temperature of 13-15ºC (55-59ºF). Jasmines make lovely container specimens. Ensure you use a container with good drainage holes, cover the holes with crocks or grit, and fill with John Innes No 2 compost. Leave space at the top for watering, and place the pot in bright but filtered light.

Jasmine plant care is not difficult but does require vigilance.Well worth it to have that wonderful evening fragrance in the summer or some brightness in the dark winter months!


Sources and further information:


Beginners guide to Jasmine

Royal Horticultural Society – growing Jasmine

How to grow Jasmine

Pruning Star Jasmine

Growing Jasmine indoors

Trachelospermum – RHS

Old School Gardener

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