Climbers and other Wall Plants
THE most delightful, beautiful in flower, foliage and fruit, can be grown against upright surfaces. Walls and fences, sheds, tree stumps and other unsightly objects can all provide ideal supports for climbing plants, and give additional growing space to the garden. Many climbing plants are true climbers, some self-clinging by means of sticky pads or suckers, some twining, others clinging by means of tendrils. There are also some woody or semi-woody shrubs which grow more successfully against walls than in the open.
Nearly all the plants described on this site will grow in any normal garden, though often the soil at the foot of walls is very poor and dry and needs improving. It is best either to remove the soil to the depth of a foot and replace it with fresh soil mixed with moisture-retaining leaf mould, rotted compost or sedge peat, or to dig wide, deep, planting holes to be filled with the same mixture.
Put supports for the plants into place before planting. They may consist of plastic-covered wire netting of heavy gauge, or strongly made trellis-work, both spaced an inch or so away from the wall to allow growths room to develop. Treat wooden trellis with a copper naphthenate wood preservative before it is put up. Stout wire, preferably covered, is also suitable, and can be stretched across the face of the wall at intervals and supported by special vine eyes driven into the wall and kept taut by straining bolts.
Woody shrubs can be fastened to the wall by putting loops of fabric shreds round the growths and nailing the fabric to the wall with ordinary nails, or by using special square-headed wall nails with lead tags which only lightly grip the stems of the plants.
Plant from October to March in well-prepared holes, leaving about 6 in. between the wall and the plant. Spread the roots roughly fanwise away from the wall and cover them firmly. With clematis it is important not to kink the stems.
It is a good plan to provide all plants with some temporary support in the form of canes until they reach the wires or trellis, and to provide shade for their roots, either by putting a large stone over the soil which covers the roots, or by planting temporary plants such as annuals or bedding plants in front of them. Most twining plants grow rapidly, whereas the rest or softer growing ones are slower and the evergreens slowest of all. When a selection of plants is put in at the foot of a wall, they should be about 8 ft. apart, then thinned later if necessary. In many cases this will be unnecessary and the wall will be adequately covered.
Because of the overhang of the roof above, the soil immediately surrounding a house often receives little rain. It may be necessary to water frequently and thoroughly, but this can be obviated to some extent by planting in moisture-retaining soil and mulching the surface of the soil round the base of the plant in spring before the soil dries out.
Many wall plants grow rapidly and needto keep them within bounds. This should be done in the spring, although it is often necessary to train in growths at other times of the year, when unwanted, forward-pointing growths can be removed, particularly from shrubs trained flat against walls.