I Like Climbing Plants
Climbers are incredibly versatile plants. They tend to grow fairly quickly
and do their stuff at about our head height. This means that we
don't have to bend over to appreciate them fully.
Unlike other plants that are at our head height such
as small trees and large shrubs, they don't take up a huge amount
Some of favourite plants are climbers. From the delicately
beautiful and wonderfully scented flowers of sweet peas to the great
masses of flowers on Rosa "Kiftsgate" and giant dinner-plate
sized leaves of the aptly named "Crimson Glory Vine" Vitis
coignetiae when in its autumnal glory.
Climbers just seem to be more "planty" than most plants.
If you think about a lush verdant scene, it usually includes vines and
climbers coming down from above. Jungles and lush conservatories look
as verdant as they do because of all the climbers growing up and hanging
don't need to put as much energy or effort into support as other
types of plants. Why make big woody stems and trunks if you can lean
on another plant (or trellis / wall / pergola etc.) that has already
done it for you.
This means that they can grow that much more quickly,
produce more leaves more quickly and produce and keep producing flowers
and fruit. As a bonus, all this happens just about where our major sense
organs happen to be.
Climbers can be used in so many different ways.
if you have a garden, then you can grow climbers, the trick is in choosing
the right ones and growing them in the right way, in particular with
the right kind of support. They are easy to manipulate into doing what
we want them to do and go where we want them to go. Because they need
a support and can't grow without the support, they tend to be very
obedient in the respect.
Without something to climb up, a climber becomes a flopper. This may
not always be a bad thing as some climbers, ivy in particular are versatile
enough to form very effective ground cover.
Walls and fences are the obvious place to grow climbers but even
better is some kind of three dimensional structure such as a pergola,
obelisk, arch or even a tree. Many climbers are the cultivated descendents
of wild ancestors that grew either in or on the edge of woodland. They
are adapted therefore to grow in three dimensions through trees or shrubs,
usually with their roots shaded and moist and their heads in the sun.
A tall structure in the garden with a climber growing up
it is a quick and easy way to give some instant height without the risk
that goes along with creating height with a large tree or shrub - ie
out of control growth.
climbers to grow
Climbers are my favourite plants and I find it very difficult
not to recommend loads of them, I've been very strict with myself and so
here are some of the best. Some popular favourites, some less well known - and
I didn't even start to look at jasmines or roses.....
Annuals from seed
Perennial Bobby Dazzlers
Clematis, large flowered.
A huge choice of named varieties are
available in a myriad of shades of blue through purple to red. Great
velvety petals of flowers frequently 4-6" across. Flower in late
spring and often with a second, smaller showing in the autumn. C.
x jackmannii, blue / purple large flowers - best grown semi-informally
rather than confined to a 2-dimensional trellis or wall.
see Clematis group 2 |
Buy large flowered Clematis
in growth habit to C. montana, but flowering in late summer and autumn
with small bell-shaped 4 - petalled flowers in all shades of yellow
from pale to deep and through to orange depending on variety. Some of
the loveliest yellows available are found here. Foliage finely dissected
and fern-like, can have a glaucous tinge in some types. Many available
McKenzie" probably the best.
Buy Clematis tangutica seeds
How to plant climbers and place support wires.
Lonicera halliana and Lonicera henryi which
are both evergreen.
Buy Lonicera halliana |
Buy Lonicera henryi |
Lonicera - Winter Honeysuckle
tricuspidata - Boston ivy.
the most popular self-clinger whose homeland is actually Japan. It clings
very closely to its support and, once established, is extremely vigorous.
Its autumn colouring is a knockout brilliant magenta. The leaves have
a shiny gloss. Considered by some to be rather coarse, if this includes
you, then go for the next plant.
Buy Boston ivy
quinquefolia - Virginia creeper.
looser clinger than Boston ivy and may bulge out a little from a wall.
Its foliage is palmate, divided into five leaflets, and the autumn colour
is a warm red, taken on fairly early - marvellous with the creamy plumes
of a tall pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana, grown in front of it.
Buy Parthenocissus quinquefolia
to Virginia creeper is Parthenocissus henryana, but of more restrained
habit, with smaller leaves, is: grown on a shady wall, it develops conspicuous
paler bands along the main veins. Self-clinging.
Buy Parthenocissus henryana
Rosa filipes "Kiftsgate"
I admit it, I like big plants more than small ones. Rosa "Kiftsgate"
is a rambling rose that always wanted to be a tree. You need space for
this one and a large support. A large mature tree will do nicely, I've
also seen them doing well grown along a long post and rail fence where
the length of run has made up for lack of altitude. A wonderful plant,
hardy and vigorous with an indecent quantity of large sprays of white
scented flowers. A good intruder barrier too, the thorns were rejected
by the people who invented barbed wire because they were too brutal
(I just made that bit up - but I wouldn't try and climb through
it, no matter how drunk). -
Scrambler - backwards pointing thorns,
need tying in at first.
Buy Rosa filipes "Kiftsgate"
the finest of all climbers (no argument as far as I'm concerned).
A member of the pea family with great trailing racemes of vivid blue
or purple flowers in late spring (white ones are available, though I
tend to regard them in the same category as red Delphiniums - why?).
They can be quite slow to flower and it's the grafted named varieties
that perform best, so dig deep in your pocket when going to buy one.
Get a good cultivar and as large as you can afford. They need regular
pruning of new growth to keep them flowering rather than just producing
leaf. - Twiner.
Buy Wisteria |
- Crimson glory vine.
of my favourite climbers this one, large bright green heavily textured
leaves up to 12" across whose autumn colours earn it its common
name. A vigorous and large plant that will grow to 50ft if given
space in a mature tree, alternatively grow it up and over a pergola
to give summer shade and autumn fireworks.
Buy Vitis coignetiae |
Buy Vitis coignetiae 2