Climbing Plants and Wall Shrubs

Climbing plants are particularly valuable, since they provide colourful cover for walls, fences, pergolas and garden sheds, and, particularly where space is limited, offer what amounts almost to an extra dimension. Climbers are divided into several categories: mostly self-supporting dingers and twiners, wall shrubs and other kinds, which will need the support of wires or a trellis, and also require tying in as they grow.

It is the plants in the first two classes that will be of the greatest interest where the saving of labour is concerned, and it is these that are mainly featured in the list that follows. Also worth growing, however, are some of the wall shrubs, such as the Japanese quince, Chaenomeles speciosa, and the firethorns, or pyracanthas, which need supporting and tying only until the basic branch framework has developed. After this, they will stand without support, and will need only the same kind of pruning as any other free-standing shrub.

There are various kinds of support for climbing plants. Some, such as the ivies and Virginia creepers, will be satisfied with a wall or fence, since the former support themselves by aerial roots, the latter by sucker pads. For the types that need tying in to a support, alternatives are wooden trellis, wire or plastic netting, or wires strained to vine eyes at horizontal or vertical intervals. For smaller shrubs, such as climbing roses or the less rampant clematis, the special wall nails, with a lead strip that secures the stems of the plants to the wall, will be sufficient.

Some climbers are happiest if they are allowed to scramble through the branches of a host plant. For example, vigorous clematis species, such as C. montana, can be given the support of a wall shrub such as one of the firethorns, mentioned above. This ability can also be exploited in other parts of the garden where a trouble-free display is desired. Some of the more rampant clematis species will make a delightful garden picture climbing through the branches of an old apple or pear tree, while the climbing rose ‘Kiftsgate’, given a tall tree as a support, will quickly reach a height of 12m (40ft) or more and scent the air with its rich perfume when the masses of single cream flowers appear in late summer.

When climbers are being planted against a wall, it should always be remembered that the conditions surrounding its base are far from ideal. The soil will receive less than the normal amount of moisture, particularly when sited against a house wall if the roof above has an overhang, and where new houses are concerned, there will almost certainly be a lot of brick and cement rubble which has accumulated there during building operations.

It is better, therefore, to plant the climber 30-45 cm (1 – 1-l/2ft) away from the wall, paying careful attention to the preparation of the planting hole. Ideally, this should not be less than 60 cm (2 ft) square and 60 cm (2 ft) deep. It will pay, too, to replace the original soil from the hole with compost or good soil from another part of the garden, fortified with a few handfuls of bonemeal.

27. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, Gardening Ideas, Time Saving | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Climbing Plants and Wall Shrubs

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