Tag Archive: climbers


g-yellow-climber-on-fenceGrowing climbers against boundaries or internal screens adds interest to a hard or unattractive surface, and is the best use of space in a small garden. choosing the right plant for then right site is the key to minimising work; in particular, you will need to consider the plant’s eventual size, and its preferred aspect.

Also, choose a support system that’s right for the plant- some will cling on without much help, others twine, others need to be tied onto a wire or some other support.

Differetn climbers need different support systems

Differetn climbers need different support systems

Here are some other things to consider:

Do put up the support before planting. Make sure it is the correct size and strength for the climber.

Do kill weeds before planting.

Do add compost when planting and use a mulch to reduce the need to water and weed.

Do invest in long-handled pruners or loppers to cut back tall climbers.

Don’t plant large plants where they will need constant cutting back to keep them within bounds.

Don’t remove canes from new climbers (though if the plant is taped to these you can cut the tapes). Position the canes to enable the plant to clamber easily onto the support.

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’- Reader’s Digest, 1999

Further Information:

‘Social climbers: How to cover a house in plants’- Daily Telegraph

‘Insulating a house with climbing plants’

Old School Gardener

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trellisGrow climbers up a rendered house (or with another painted surface, like timber boards) on trellis panels fixed to the wall with hinges at the bottom edge and secured by catches at the top. when the wall needs a fresh coat of paint, swing the top of the panel forward just enough to get a paint brush or roller in behind. The main stems at the base are scarcely disturbed.

Old School Gardener

choisya-shrub-white-flowerHedging-

Instead of a formal hedge that needs trimming twice a year, use an informal border of compact evergreen shrubs which don’t need pruning. If you want a hedge , choose one that is not too vigourous for the chosen position and that is trouble free.

Further information:

RHS- Evergreen shrubs

RHS- Planting hedges

Shrub profiles

Hedging plants

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’ (Reader’s Digest 1999)

Old School Gardener

 

castello-sforzesco03Climbers-

Select climbers that need no tying to their supports. Avoid trained forms of plants that require pruning and tying in every year. also avoid climbers that need regular pruning to keep them healthy, productive and under control.

Further information:

RHS- Climbers and Wall shrubs for shade

Considering Climbers

How to choose the correct climbing plant

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’ (Reader’s Digest 1999)

Old School Gardener

 

The glorious Passion Flower

The glorious Passion Flower

Today’s question concern climbers that won’t flower, specifically Passion flowers and Wisteria. Jimmy Jones of Brighton asks:

‘I’ve a problem with two of my climbers. I have a Passion Flower growing over my front door which grows very vigourously, but produces no flowers or fruit. Likewise I bought a Wisteria a good few years ago and it did not grow for a long time. I fed it and recently it has begun to grow, but still has not flowered. Can you help please?’

The Passion Flower (Passiflora) needs one thing above all else- sunshine. So a south facing wall is really the only place where it will succeed in most parts of the U.K.- it must be open to the sun all day. If your location is right the other issue might be an over rich soil- this can produce a mass of foliage and stems at the expense of flowers, so if you’ve been feeding it perhaps lay off for a while and then make sure you use a feed rich in potassium (e.g.dilute tomato feed), which will encourage flowering.

As for the Wisteria, this is one of those plants that takes a fair while to come into flower. to make the wait even more agonising, it often grows very little in its first year or two. Help to induce flowering by shortening any unwanted long stems in July or August, cutting them back to about 30 cms or to 5 or 6 buds, and prune again in January, shortening all side shoots back to two or three buds, so concentrating the plant’s energy into a limited number of flowering buds. Again, an occasional feed with diluted tomato feed (or another feed rich in potassium) can also coax flowers from reluctant plants.

My own experience from transplanting a Wisteria seedling to my arbour in my Kitchen Garden, is that it’s taken a good five years for it to flower in any profusion, but I think the mild winter and warmish spring have also played a part- below are some pictures of how it looks today. I’m gradually training it over the top and sides of the arbour. You might also find  this article about using climbers in the garden useful.

Coincidentally my younger daughter (who lives in a basement apartment in the outskirts of Lisbon,Portugal), has just bought a Wisteria to go alongside a very successful Trachelospermum jasminoides she and her husband planted about 3 years ago (I’m told the fragrance just now is wonderful). I’ve suggested they train it along wires fixed to the walls of their patio garden and as it’s in a container to give it a fortnightly feed of tomato food to encourage flowering. Fingers crossed!

If you have any questions you’d liked answered then email me and I’ll do my best to feature your question and hopefully provide an answer!

My email address: nbold@btinternet.com, and put ‘GQT question’ in the subject line, please.

Old School Gardener

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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

Regular readers may recall that I recently mentioned my plans to run a second Garden Design course at Reepham, here in Norfolk. I’m pleased to say that this has now begun and I’m looking forward to working with the 8 enthusiastic participants over the next few weeks to come up with designs and ideas for their gardens.

Coincidentally, I was also contacted recently by one of the students on the first course, Angela, who lives in a village nearby. She updated me on what she’s done in her garden since the course and was trying to arrange a meeting with her fellow students to share progress and ideas. She also asked for some advice. As this raised an interesting issue, I thought I’d share it with you as this week’s ‘GQT’. Her question is:

‘We took out a hedge last year between our vegetable garden and the lawn.  Most of the hedge area plus a bit of lawn is now a border, and we’d like to put in some sort of screen where the hedge was.  We don’t want a solid screen and were thinking of espalier fruit trees.  However, we do not need any more fruit trees and I think something of winter interest would be better.  Thoughts so far include Pyracantha or maybe Cotoneaster.  Do you think Pyracantha would work?’

A Pyracantha hedge

A Pyracantha hedge

Well Angela, Pyracantha makes a lovely informal hedge, with spring flowers and autumn berries as well as evergreen foliage (see the picture above).

However the ones suitable for hedging can grow to 2 – 3 metres high (and can also be quite wide), so unless you keep it cut back it will provide a pretty dense and high screen, perhaps not what you were looking for? The Cotoneasters suitable for a hedge (e.g C. lacteus) have similar range of interest to Pyracantha and are also pretty dense and tall, unless kept in trim. But doing this rather defeats the object of an ‘informal’ hedge, unless you keep trimming to a minimal tidy up of loose ends!

If a more permeable screen is what you’re after, you could go for a backdrop of grasses that would add a lovely golden colour to a border at this time of year.

If they are in a sheltered spot they will stand tall and provide some winter interest (cut them to ground level in the spring); an example is Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’. You could of course mix these along the line of the old hedge with evergreen shrubs (themselves with a variety of interest through the seasons). This would once again define the back of the border in an informal way, leaving ‘peep holes’ through the grasses into the garden beyond.

If you’re looking for something to provide a strong linear backdrop to your border but still give views through to the next garden, another idea might be to go for some sort of post and rail/rope structure (the latter is known as a ‘swag’- see the picture at the top of the article), or even a series of wide – opening trellis panels.

This then gives you the option of climbers to train up and along the wood/rope, but gives you views/glimpses through to what lies beyond. You could go for a mixture of climbers to give you a range of seasonal interest. Clematis of different varieties will give you flowers throughout the year, including winter flowers (e.g C. cirrhosa and its cultivars have winter flowers in creamy/ freckled shades and evergreen leaves). And some varieites give you other sorts of Autumn/winter interest. For example C. tangutica and it’s cultivars have some lovely ‘hairy’ seed heads that last into winter. Rambling/ climbing roses would also provide summer/early autumn flowers, followed by hips on some varieties. However, some of the Clematis (e.g cirrhosa) can get quite bushy so will need to be kept in check if you want to have views through – and the roses will also need pruning. Another option is to train a Pyracantha along a post and rail barrier to give you that ‘espalier’ effect you mentioned (see picture below).

Pyracantha coccinea trained along post and rails

Pyracantha coccinea trained along post and rails

Alternatively try one of the above options, but additionally introduce some winter interest directly into your border – e.g colourful stems from the various Cornus (Dogwoods), or foliage, flower and fragrance from any number of shrubs; e.g Daphne, Winter Jasmine, Eleagnus, Euonymus, various Viburnums etc.

Further information:

Hedge selector

10 AGM variegated evergreen shrubs- RHS

Hedge planting- RHS

All about Pyracantha

Related article:

GQT: Climbers as clothing… and as heighteners and dividers

Old School Gardener

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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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