Home garden design > Climbing plants

Climbing plants

Climbing plantsIt would be impossible to over-estimate the value of the various climbing plants to the garden designer; without them our gardens would lose half their beauty and charm. This much we owe to them, that without their graceful presence many beautiful garden houses, outbuildings and walls, would be intolerable eyesores. But for our climbing roses, clematis, honeysuckle, and fragrant jasmine, there would be no possibility of shady pergolas, flower-clad archways, and welcome arbour.

The crudities of the gardener, his ugly terrace walls and staring porticos, may all be softened and veiled by a tender covering of flowery sprays and rich green foliage. Yet, in spite of this, more effective use might be made of plants of twining and scandent habit, not only by calling in the aid of several beautiful subjects which are now seldom seen, but by displaying those we have to further advantage.

In the wild gardens of nature we find that climbers choose for their support living trees and shrubs, and who will gainsay the charm of the hedgerow wreathed in honeysuckle, or of the beauty of the wild rose which has scrambled by chance amid the branches of some forest tree. How seldom we afford the cultivated climbers this form of support. On the stronger growing trees we may have the snowy clematis montana, flinging its blossom-clad trails from branch to branch; vines and gorgeous Virginian creeper garlanding the trunks, and hanging pendant from the nethermost boughs. The axe may even be stayed from a dead or dying elm; instead, allowing the mauve and white wistarias to twine their way upwards, and cover the withered stump with new life and loveliness.

By selecting climbers of less rampant growth, the evergreen shrubs may be wreathed with many a fragrant spray, all the more beautiful because of the freedom from artificial planning and arrangement. In this way endless possibilities are opened before us, of which we should not fail to take advantage. The following list of hardy climbers will, it is hoped, afford some assistance to those in need of suitable plants for a variety of purposes:

Roses - The Queen of Flowers is worthy of a website to herself, and it would be impossible to give anything like an adequate description of a tithe of the climbing varieties, within the limits of this page. The following list embraces some of the most beautiful climbing forms in cultivation.

Aimee Tlibert - Small white flowers borne in large clusters. Beautiful for the pergola.

Celine Forestier - Sulphur-yellow, free blooming.

Devoniensis - White, with creamy shading, large and full.

Felicité Perpétue - R. Sempervirens The foliage is evergreen, and the clustering white flowers are faintly tinged with pink.

Crimson Rambler - Invaluable. A quick grower, soon clothing pillar or pergola with its bright green foliage, among which the trusses of vivid blossoms show to advantage. Euphrosyne with rosy flowers; Thaha, white; and Aglaia, yellow and also useful, but the crimson form is the best.

Paul's Carmine Pillar - A single variety with bright carmine flowers. It is quite hardy and looks well covering a trellis. One of the best single climbers. The Single White is also desirable.

Alice Grey - Belonging to the Ayrshire section. Blooms in summer, the flowers are creamy white, edged with pink.

Banksia - Delicately scented and well adapted for walls. Both the yellow and white should be grown, also the improved variety Fortunei.

Gloire de Dijon - Well known, should be in every garden.

Rosa Brunonis - White Indian Rose. Fine foliage. The single creamy flowers are beautifully centred with yellow. A lovely variety for rambling among trees.

Rosa Moschata Nivea - Musk Rose. Another single. The flowers are scented, the colour white, suffused with pink, and the centre of each occupied by a bunch of golden anthers, the buds pink. Very free growing.

Austrian Briars - For rambling over dwarf trellis or about the base of stone balconies these roses are most useful. Both the yellow and copper-red forms are worth growing.

Rosa Rubrifolia - Red-leaved Rose. Of little importance, so far as its flowers are concerned, but delightful for its richly coloured leaves and purple shoots.

Reve d'Or - Belonging to the Noisette section. A favourite variety with nankeen copper flowers, and a profusion of rich brown shoots.

Lamarque - White with yellow centre, a free flowering kind, growing well on a wall.

Sweet Briar - (Lord Penzance Hybrids.) These are a lovely race, combining the sweetness of the old Sweet Briar, with a wonderful colour range in the flowers. They are generally used for hedges, but look well trained as pillar roses. A few ought to be in every garden on account of their fragrance. The following are good kinds : Meg Merrilies, rich crimson; Lady Penzance, soft copper; Brenda, blush; Julie Mannering, delicate pink; Minna, white; Anne of Geierstein, deep crimson; Jeannie Deans, semi-double, vivid crimson; Rose Bradwardine, clear rose.

Clematis - There are but few positions in which these will not appear charming. Porches, arbours, trellis and pergola all look lovely when wreathed with some of the new hybrids; whilst the Traveller's Joy (C. Vitalba) forms beautiful garlands among the branches of the larger trees. C. montana, with its myriad white blossoms, is one of the best for the house. C. Jackmanii, with purple flowers, looks well among the grey oaken beams of the pergola, but neither this nor other of the mauve and violet kinds show to advantage near red walls. Among the hybrids are Beauty of Worcester, Duchess of Edinburgh, Jackmanii alba, Miss Bateman, Stella, and Belle of Woking, all beautiful.

The Scarlet Clematis (C. coccinea) is very pretty and distinct, but a warm sheltered position is essential to its well-being. The flowers are bell-shaped, the sepals fleshy, and the colour a rich carmine scarlet.

Lonicera - Honeysuckle. Fragrant climbers for trellis or pergola. They also look well twining among the branches of trees with dark foliage. A sunny, open position suits them best. L. Japonica, with leaves somewhat like the oak, is a pretty form, quite hardy; the variety aureo-reticulata, with leaves overlaid with a network of gold, is also beautiful. A warm wall is needed for L. sempervirens, with handsome tubular flowers in shades of scarlet and yellow. The winter flowering kind, fragrantissima, with white flowers, is sweetly scented. An early bloomer.

Jasminum - J. officinale, the White jasmine, is a quick grower, soon covering an arbour, for which position it is perhaps best suited. Nudiflorum should be grown on account of its welcome note of colour, when the garden is otherwise dull and bare.

Wistaria Sinensis - A beautiful woody climber, delightful for the pergola, in which position its long racemes of mauve flowers are seen to great advantage. The variety alba is also fine. Wistarias might be more often grown among trees, especially if the latter are past their prime, and so will not suffer from the embrace of so large and free-growing a climber.

Tecoma - Trumpet Creeper. Fine scarlet corymbs, but must have the shelter of a south wall in all but southern counties.

Tropaeolum Speciosum - Flame Flower. A gorgeous creeper which often defies all efforts at establishment. The Lakeland cottages are often enveloped in its glowing trails, which also look beautiful wandering over sombre yews or dark leaved shrubs. Partial shade.

Crataegus Pyracantha - Evergreen foliage and brilliant scarlet berries. Suitable for a wall.

To this list must be added the Ivies in great variety, Ampelopsis tricuspidata (syn. Veitchi), A. quinquefolia, Virginian Creeper and the Vines. More fragile than the foregoing, yet of distinct value, are the Hops, the flowered Cobaea scandens, Eccremocarpus, the double pink Calystegia, and the Everlasting Peas. These look well among the smaller shrubs, which would soon be choked out of existence by the more rampant varieties which have been noticed. In really warm districts the beautiful Passiflora will also be pressed into service, but it belongs to the fortunate few to grow these and other tender climbers in the open.