A Climber for Every Corner

A while ago we released an article on the increasing encroachment of urbanisation on personal green spaces, stating some means by which a lack of space can become an opportunity, rather than a hinderance to creativity.

This week we want to follow that up with a selection of wall based planting schemes so that, although our spaces might be small, we can make the most of all the surfaces, not least the verticals.

Hence, for your consideration you’ll find below a selection of just a few of our favourite climbing plants, selected based on their hardiness and listed according to the position they thrive in.


Shady Places:

image of Hydrangea petiolaris

Hydrangea petiolaris

This deciduous climber is native to the rural areas of Japan and the Korean peninsula and it is ideally suited for the north western quadrant of the garden, as it thrives in morning sun and afternoon shade. In the summertime it will reward diligence with fertile and numerous white, lace-cap blooms that turn coppery and stay on the plant well into winter. You can expect it to reach heights of 15 metres, however it is recommended that you aid its growth with garden ties, as this species suffers from quite weak rootlets. For this reason trellis may be needed if the wall itself is barren of holds for the plant to attach. 

image of Pyracantha

Pyracantha – 

‘The Firethorn’, as it is commonly known, is actually a vertical shrub and has long been employed as means of bordering a garden due to it’s dense foliage and defensive thorns, however as a vertical addition it also provides an array of colour and interest to a garden. For example, once their white blooms have shed they will bear orange, red and yellow berries both admired as an autumn decoration and loved by the birds. 

image of Clematis montana

Clematis montana – 

Here is a species most will be familiar with, the beautiful Clematis flower is all but an institution among Britain’s green-fingered, though a fragile one as the stems can be quite brittle, so care is needed when training it in. This climber will flower profusely with pink or white flowers in spring and again later in the year, albeit more sparsely. In the lull period it will provide attractive emerald, and sometimes purple tinted, foliage. 


Sunny Spots:

image of roses

Roses – 

Perhaps the most famous of flowering plants, this perennial climber will thrive in full sun and will reward the gardener with large, colourful and often very fragrant flowers. It is important in very sunny conditions to ensure the plant is well watered and the soil rich, artificially enhanced if necessary with the aid of compost or well-rotted manure. Providing the right conditions will keep the plant healthy and reduce the risk of disease.

image of campsis

Campsis – 

‘The Trumpet Vine’ comes in two varieties, the south east American radicans and the Chinese grandiflora, either will thrive in a British garden when afforded enough sunlight. Their most attractive feature is the brightly coloured, orange or yellow flowers for whose shape they are named, they are also extremely sought after by bird species and will aid the wildlife population of your space.

image of Trachelospermum jasminoides

Trachelospermum jasminoides – 

The ‘Evergreen Jasmine’ makes a good alternative to regular Jasmine, which can look a bit untidy in the winter months. This one has shiny dark green foliage and the same, highly scented, starry, white flowers all summer long.


Exposed Positions:

image of wisteria

Wisteria – 

A member of the pea family, this hardy climber will attach to any support you can provide and is popular in rooftop gardening for it’s durability. It will bear fragrant, lilac, purple or white flowers that form with an appearance much like hanging grapes and, once established, will continue to do so for many years. Best in a west-facing position.

image of Parthenocissus

Parthenocissus – 

‘Virginia Creeper’ – Similarly to the Trumpet Lily, this genus is very popular among birds and will attract them to any garden that houses it. It is grown mainly for it’s spectacular rich autumn colours and, due to it’s prevalent nature, it will quickly cover unsightly fences and other artificial structures you may wish to conceal. However, just watch it doesn’t get into your gutters and under roof tiles!

image of hedera

Hedera – Ivy –

For hardiness and an ability to deal with almost all situations, you can’t really beat good old ivy. Available in a variety of leaf sizes and colours, including some very attractive variegated types, like the Virginia Creeper, it will quickly cover any unattractive boundaries or buildings. However, also like the Virginia Creeper, it climbs by clinging on with tiny suckers, so can cause damage to walls and roofs if not kept in check.

There you have it – hopefully those whose gardens have been confined by the rapid urbanisation of recent years will find something here to help maintain the illusion, if not necessarily the reality of a much larger space.  

By Josh Ellison

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