Climbers; filling vertical gaps in your garden

Clematis montana

Gardening Tip – For the week 18th   July – 24th July planting Climbers

Filling in the vertical gaps in your garden with Climbers

Many people spend the long winter evening planning next years garden, nowadays, we have an advantage,  with digital photography there is no limit of the amount of photos you can take, so when you are cuddled up  around the fire you will remember what things looked like during their growing period. But truthfully, a better time to think of your future garden, is now, at the height of summer when your garden is in full swing. Take a  careful and critical (may be best to do this with a truthful neighbour!) look at the parts of the garden you would like to keep and the  parts you think are begging for  change.  An empty piece of land can easily be filled with a dot plant, but I think that people look at their gardens with their face pointing to the ground and they forgot that every garden has 3 dimensions. Imagine if Chelsea would only cover the first metre above the ground – the entrance fee would be half the price! There are so many “climbers”; climbing plants that could be incorporated even in the smallest garden to give it height which really would change the overall look. To enable us to do this without shading the garden with large trees, we are blessed with an array of climbing plants which literally do as their name suggests and they change a garden from a collection of flowers to a well balanced decorous garden. On the other side of the coin some climbers are so vigorous that if you plant them this year, next year your garden will be a living climbing frame so please read my hints and tips before rushing out to buy one.

Hint and tips on climbing plants:

Just like when we climb, most of us need a ladder while some of us can successfully scale a wall with no extra assistance;  plants can similarly be  classed  into two distinctive groups. There are plants that form their own aerial roots and will cling to a wall without need for any further bonding agent, whilst many other climbers need to tie their leaves or the tendrils they produce, around a suitable string or netting.

So if you have a wall or a fence on your boundary you can choose to grow one of the self clinging climbers without installing any further vertical structure; but to grow any of the other climbers you will have to add wires or a netting. We don’t mean the netting used to save your strawberries from the birds, the netting can have large holes, more important is the strength of the netting, think of the eventual size and weight of the plant you intend to grow and  make sure your netting will have the strength to keep it up long term, before you plant your climber and install it in situ.

This week we will concentrate on climbers that cover very large areas and next week we will advise you on climbers that are suitable for smaller gardens.

Lets begin with the plant everybody knows as a climber – the common ivy.

Botanical Name: Hedera.    Common Name:   Ivy  : Self clinging and evergreen.

Small Leaved Ivy climbersTo many people the name ivy conjures up images of a rampant growing weed like a sword bearing knight killing any plant in its path. Change that image by selecting a variegated ivy with small leaves . Try the variety ‘goldheart’ where each leaf has a yellow centre. From a distance you won’t even connect it with the ivy you are used to. It grows well on a north facing wall and keeps its leaves in winter; two virtues that few climbers can match.






Botanical Name: Parthenocissus .    Common Name:  Virginia Creeper  : Self clinging.

virginia creeper climbersThis vine is often seen covering old Victorian houses and  people seem to  appreciate it more than ivy although it is also very vigorous. Its hall of fame is the autumn colouring of its leaves  – a bright red . Some varieties are tinged red throughout the summer as well.








climbing hydrangea climbersBotanical Name: Hydrangea Petiolaris .    Common Name:  Climbing hydrangea  : Self clinging. This climber is self clinging with really strong roots (see picture), and has the ability to grow well on a north facing wall. If it is grown in full or  partial sun it has the added interest of small hydrangea type flowers covering the bush in spring. After settling in, it becomes very vigorous and can spread 20m but a pair of secateurs is still stronger!








polygonum climbersBotanical Name: Polygonum .    Common Name:  Russian vine : Twining

This is the plant recommended to give to your mother in law or any other unwanted guest, once this plant is established it lives up to its common name ‘mile a minute vine ’, and your unwanted guest will be so busy cutting it back, they will have less time to visit you! It still does have its place in some situations – I once wanted to cover an eyesore of a 4m tree stump in my neighbours garden so I planted a polygonum next to it when he wasn’t watching. It still covers the tree stump beautifully and the long racemes of white flowers are a welcome sight but the minute I let just one twig reach the adjoining cherry tree – within a week the cherry tree leaves become invisible.



Clematis montana climbersBotanical Name: Clematis  .    Common Name:  Clematis   : tendrils .

Clematis are now being sold everywhere, and they have greatly reduced in price. They are said to enjoy their roots in the cold  and their heads in the sunshine which is easy to create in a well stocked garden. Remember to prune them – the spring flowering ones  in autumn and the autumn flowering ones  in spring. The clematis pictured here is a clematis Montana which is a rampant grower. The whole bush could originate from a bush  less than a metre square. It is a pity that the picture was not taken in the spring when the wall is a cloud of pink from the abundance of its flowers.



wisteriaBotanical Name: Wisteria  .    Common Name:  Wistaria .

This is really more of a tall shrub than a climbing plant and it therefore  grows better over a pergola than a wired netting. The main problem is getting it to flower – you are advised to prune it back once in February and again in July . When in full bloom it is truly a sight to behold, but it remains a plant for the rich, due to the space it needs and with it being a bit of a gamble due to the exuberant cost of buying a plant that will need a lot of care until it flowers.



kiwi plantBotanical Name: Actinidia  .    Common Name:  Kiwi plant .

The variety Chinensis  is the plant that should grow kiwis. The older varieties needed a male and female plant but newer varieties are self fertile. I have had kiwis from my plants but not very often. I think I will have to wait for global warming to increase. Other than fruit the plant is a rampant grower and the leaves will grow upt 15m easily. Another variety is Kolomikta which has a smaller but more  attractive pink tinged leaf and is not so vigorous.







Money saving tip :

Hydrangea for saleHydrangea plants can be expensive around £15 for a good size plant.  But  this week Lidl are selling these plants for just £6.99 , including a white flowered variety that is quite unusual.  Long lasting flowers and good foliage all in one. !I wrote  a few weeks ago how the supermarkets are desperate to rid their shelves of their gardening gear and reducing their prices by 20 to 30 % – Asda has gone one step further and many items are now reduced by 75%!!





Next week :  Climbers that won’t suffocate your garden.

Enjoy your gardening week!

Boris Legarni.

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4 Replies to “Climbers; filling vertical gaps in your garden”

  1. Wisterias are just stunning. I think that they have to be in my top 10 favourite plants! GF

  2. Great ideas here. I’ve got a spot that could do with a climber in it – I will research further 🙂 Paula

  3. Wow – that Virginia Creeper is stunning!

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