A wide-ranging genus of evergreen and deciduous flowering and climbing shrubs, all of which can climb only with assistance from trellis, wire or some other support. They can be in flower from April to October. Most clematis are deciduous and very hardy, although the evergreens generally need a little protection. The species and small flowered cultivars begin the season in April with C. macropetala, followed by C. montana, most vigorous of all clematis, with white, vanilla-scented. The purples and pinks of C. viticella and relatives arrive in June. The large flowered hybrids with ‘Nelly Moser type blooms dazzle us in May and June to be followed by the main display of the Jackmanii group. Clematis , which appears to be complex, can be reduced to the rules that the C. montana group should be lightly thinned after flowering. C. Jackmanii type should be cut right back to within 30cm (12in) of the in February and the others should merely be thinned and shortened slightly at much the same time.
Ivies grow in any soil, they tolerate sun and shade, they are hardy, they climb by themselves with no support, they may be pruned lightly or severely and will continue to grow happily. There are few species but many varieties, differing in size and colour of leaf and to some extent in habit of growth. Some of the varieties differ slightly according to the conditions under which they grow. The common ivy is Hedera helix. Others include H. canariensis, variegated cream; and H. colchica, with large dark green leaves.
Honeysuckles will grow in almost any soil, will flower happily in sun or shade and given a minimum of support or assistance will climb and scramble over almost anything in their path. Still the best species in many ways is the woodbine, the common wild honeysuckle of country hedges, L. periclymenum, with flowers some 5cm (2in) long. Strongly and sweetly perfumed, creamy-white within and purplish or yellowish outside, flowering from June to September and followed by shining red berries. L. sempervirens is evergreen, a rich orange-scarlet outside and yellow within, 4-5cm (1-½ – 2in) long.
Strong, partially self-clinging by means of little suction pads on the tendrils, thesewill grow under most conditions and climb a wall or a tree, producing foliage of unique, glossy green in spring and dazzling red, orange and yellow in autumn. P. quinquefolia is the original Virginia creeper, now believed to be surpassed by P. henryana, with its particularly beautiful foliage.
These vines, normally grown for decorative purposes, will produce only token fruits as a rule, although V. vinifera ‘Brandt’ can deliver small bunches, almost cylindrical, of edible fruit in some seasons. These climbers use strong, wiry tendrils to pull themselves along and upwards, so they must have some support on which to climb.
A small family of deciduous, they are known and loved for the long racemes of white, blue, purple or pink flowers produced in May and June. Vines should grow in full sun and when growing strongly may require an annual drastic pruning in late winter plus an August shortening of the main shoots. The Chinese wisteria, W. sinensis, is the most popular species.