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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Climbers and creepers in Ireland, including wall shrubs

The sky's the limit...

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Adamn Greathead
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 7:49 pm    Post subject: The sky's the limit... Reply with quote

All of a sudden I can think of a list of climbers which I wouldn't be without

There is an eclectic group of plants they call climbers which contain some of the most beautiful and intricately designed flowers of all. Some of these will, without a doubt, be exotic to our climate but will grow here if treated as an annual. Others are more likely to be hardy and thrive in the British climate, most being deciduous however some evergreens do exist. When grown, climbers demonstrate how invaluable they actually are: they'll grow through other plants, cover an arbour or even decorate an ailing tree.
Clematis, with species flowering nearly twelve months of the year, remain unbeaten when it comes to flower shape and colour, climate and aspect. The most vigorous clematis tends to belong to the spring flowering kinds. Of these I grow several: Clematis alpina 'Constance' which is a vivacious pink, Clematis alpina 'alba', obviously a white and a beautifully naïve one at that and, finally I grow clematis macropeletea 'Frances rivis' this is different to the others by the shape of its flowers. It has marvellous inverting baby blue petals that sit beneath prominent dusky stamens. All three kinds of clematis are grown up walls and fences with one scrambling up a wigwam of hazel amidst the herbaceous border. Their pastel hues cloak the walls here with great dexterity, with many sky blue blooms bursting from the crevices and pernicious pink poking from every nook and cranny.
In the wild here, Old man's beard (clematis vitalba) thrives. It has become rather indigenous over the past decade and now dominates a large proportion of the hedgerows and country lanes across the country. It boasts greenish white blooms in late summer which are closely followed by fluffy seed heads that demonstrate an heir of delicacy which, in the average well-kept garden, would look entirely out of place and, given chance, would show histrionic expedition in scrambling over everything standing in its path.
Another variety which I have grown with outstanding results is Clematis tangutica 'Bill McKenzie'; a vigorous climber bearing nodding bell-like flowers all summer and all autumn. Again, this variety develops immaculate seed heads which, by December, fall apart letting their seeds disperse in an unmannered fashion just as though it has given up the fight. But far from it- they religiously return every spring with an outbreak of fresh foliage ready and eager to provide an even bigger flush of flowers than the previous year. And if given a trim immediately after the initial flowering period they will supply a second flush around about June that I find invigorating at such a time of the year when so many people are relying on bedding schemes for all their colour.
I don't need to stand here and dictate the fact that there are other existing climbers asides from clematis which really are at the forefront of vertical growing. For a start, one versatile climber which springs to mind is Morning glory (Ipomea). 'Grandpa Otts' is my firm favourite variety that has beautiful indigo cups each splashed with a lighter shaded star. This climbing plant will quickly reach 6ft in a season which proves to be beneficial as it is a tender perennial and will be blasted by the first invasion of frost. Plus it is hardly ever worth the effort of attempting to over winter them as it is far easier to gain an additional year from them by just sowing fresh seed each spring.
All of a sudden I can think of a list of climbers which I wouldn't be without and appear or have appeared in this garden. Some of these include Jasminum beesianum; Pyracantha; Hydrangea petiolaris; lonicera and Passiflora caerula. To mention them all would be just but time consuming so I won't go on. What I will say is grow some more climbers, go for the vertical growers and quite literally aim for the sky!
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