Covering a bare wall with foliage, clothing a pergola in flowers or adding greenery to a tiny garden, climbers are fantastic at providing colour and softening boundaries while taking up very little ground space. There are climbers to suit all conditions, from full shade to brilliant sunshine, and here are a few of our favourites.
Climbers for shade
- Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris) is an evergreen climber that grows well in the shade, clinging to walls and fences with aerial roots. It takes a few years to establish, but once it gets going will cover a large wall or fence. It flowers in summer, producing abundant delicate-looking white lacecap flowers. Cut back the flowered stems after flowering has finished.
- Honeysuckle (Lonicera) will grow in the sun or partial shade. There are several different species, many producing colourful, scented flowers that are very popular with pollinators. Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is semi-evergreen, with fragrant flowers from late spring, while Dutch honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) is deciduous and usually blooms in summer. Honeysuckles are vigorous and fast-growing, with self-twining stems that will wind themselves around supports.
- Ivy (Hedera helix) often gets a negative press, but it’s easy to grow, does well in the shade and is very good for wildlife. Contrary to popular belief, ivy roots won’t damage a wall that’s in good condition, although their aerial roots will grow into the cracked mortar. Ivy is evergreen, providing good winter shelter for birds, and the autumn flowers are an excellent late food source for bees. Cut it back hard in spring to keep it under control.
- Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) is a fantastic evergreen climber for a sheltered sunny wall. Its woody stems will twine themselves around support wires, although they may also need some training. In summer, it’s covered in starry white flowers with a very sweet scent, especially in the evenings.
- Clematis armandi is fast-growing with leathery oval leaves and masses of fragrant white flowers in early spring. It needs ample space to spread out and will twine around support wires.
- Wisteria is a welcome sight in spring, with its long trailing purple racemes of flowers filling the air with fragrance. It loves a sunny wall and is very vigorous. Give wisteria a strong support system as the mature plants can get very heavy, and prune it in late summer and again in midwinter.
- Clematis come in a wide range of shapes and colours, and there’s one in flower almost any time of year, from delicate winter-flowering Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurescens ‘Freckles’ to spectacular large-flowered clematis like ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’ in late spring and trumpet-flowered ‘Princess Diana’ in late summer and early autumn. Most clematis do best with their roots in the cool shade and their heads in the sun.
If you have a bare wall needing a climber, come in and see our extensive range. You’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for!