Keen gardeners and garden designers can usually find a spot for at least one climbing plant, whether it is to “soften” or cover an ugly wall, fence or tank stand, or to decorate an archway at the entrance to the garden or pergola attached to the house with a beautiful flowering vine.
To quote prominent garden designer Paul Bangay ”one of the big benefits of climbers is that they are incredibly space efficient. They can rise to great heights without taking up too much ground space. Climbers can also assist with the temperature control of a house. Planting deciduous vines on a pergola adjacent to your home provides summer shade but allows winter sun to penetrate”.
The first decision to make when considering which climber to plant is whether you want it to be evergreen (in leaf all year) or deciduous.
A couple of examples of evergreen climbing plants that are suited to our region are Chinese star jasmine, Hardenbergia (Australian native plant covered in purple or white, pea like flowers at this time of year), Banksia roses (thornless, white and yellow flowering forms), and creeping fig (Ficus
As for flowering, deciduous climbing plants there are a couple of “standouts” for our region. Clematis is a vigorous grower which produces beautiful flowers in a range of colours in spring. Clematis jackmanii hybrid produces big, star shape flowers with white, purple, pink and red flowering cultivars that can give you a second phase of flowering in late summer/autumn too.
Wisteria is an old fashioned climbing plant that we all know coming in white, purple and blue flowering forms, some of which can produce long flowering branches (racemes) that hang down beautifully from a support structure. Finally, the climbing roses that we see producing magnificent flower displays
over arches, fences and other structures in parks and gardens across our region. Some favourites are Gold Bunny (yellow, repeat flowering), Florentina (red) and Pierre de Ronsard (pink).
By Ian Rogan, Millthrope Garden Nursery