Train your greenery to grow vertically and horizontally with Meredith Kirton’s insider tips.
Meredith Kirton explains how to train climbing plants to reach new heights.
BARE WALL? UGLY FENCE? HOT HOUSE in summer that needs shading? Climbing plants solve all these issues, transforming your problem into a lush cascade of green that can provide months of colour and fragrance. The best climbers need to suit your purpose, so consider whether you’d like an evergreen cover or to let the winter sun in through, say, a pergola. Here are the stand-outs...
It’s impossible to walk past the orange trumpet vine (Pyrostegia) without doing a double take. The bright flowers literally smother the whole plant in an orange cascade for many weeks over winter. It’s great for full sun, loves the tropics (hates the cold) and can easily cover many metres, making it terrific for fences. Initial support is needed to help it get started. If orange isn’t your colour, perhaps try a dash of sunshine with Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium). This attractive climber won’t outgrow its welcome and its yellow flowers appear in late winter and spring and then again in autumn. It has evergreen glossy foliage and suits all climates.
Springtime overwhelms us for choice with jasmine, wisteria, climbing roses and honeysuckle, all of which are suitable for most of Australia, with the exception of the tropics. If you’re in a cold area, clematis is a beautiful spring plant.
If you love natives, then try the Australian native dusky coral pea (Kennedia), wonga wonga vine (Pandorea jasminoides) or bluebell creeper (Sollya heterophylla). All are okay in semi-shade or full sun, but will need support to get them started in their climb.
Chinese star jasmine (Trachelospermum
jasminoides) grows in deep shade as well as full sun and won’t disappoint with its fragrant display of white lace-like flowers in spring and
summer. The glossy green foliage looks good all year round, and for different foliage effects there are also two variegated forms: ‘Variegata’, with creamy yellow margins, and ‘Tricolour’, with gorgeous pink-tipped new growth that fades to a clotted cream shade.
Honeysuckle, also called woodbine, is a vigorous twiner with sweetly scented flowers. It can grow out of control in warm temperate climates so needs to be pruned after flowering. For a less vigorous climber try the slow growing Hoya, which can last for 30 years in the same pot, flowering every year. It prefers semi-shade but can tolerate full sun. Stephanotis or wax flower, popular in bridal bouquets in the 1920s and ‘30s, is experiencing a big revival thanks to its perfect white blooms.
Perhaps the most popular and easily recognised climber for warmer and tropical climates is bougainvillea. Its papery bracts are long-lasting and showy but need strong supports and hard pruning to keep them in check. Bougainvillea is perfect for great cascades, hiding a shed and climbing over old trees; it can be also be planted in hanging baskets or standardised.
FROM THE EXPERT
Meredith Kirton is a horticulturist, landscape designer and author of several books on gardening. Seasonal stunner Wisteria offers fragrant blooms in spring and shade in summer, then loses its leaves to let in the winter sun.
(From left) Whites Red Zen plant trainer, 120cm x 30cm, $16.96, from Bunnings. Askholmen flower box with trellis in Grey/Brown, $64.98, from Ikea. Brunnings Nature metal trellis, 180cm, $44.95, from Temple & Webster. Helix 3D trellis, $55, from Bunnings.
Orange trumpet vine
Walk this way Roses climbing up a pergola create an eye-catching entry to a garden room.
Up and over Deciduous vines give a burst of colour in autumn.
A rose- covered arbour will add height and depth.