Grow your own trellis
Who needs modern vertical gardens when you can grow your own old-fashioned trellis? Jackie French shows how to start growing up.
Once you needed a massive backyard to have a giant garden. These days a skyscraper can become a hanging flower bed, and a sunny wall can have a vegie patch. But vertical gardens can be expensive, and dangerous if not well engineered. The easiest, cheapest way to “grow up” is with wires or netting attached to posts for plants to grow on, because trellises give you a lot of garden – fast.
1 For coverage: potato vine Plant one for a two-metre-square, all-year blaze of white (or pale purple) flowers on glossy foliage. Potato vine can become a weed, so hack it back to keep it neat and stop it taking over. Weeding too vigorously close to the base will stimulate rapid, vigorous sucker growth.
2 For elegance: clematis Clematis needs moist, well-drained soil, well mulched to keep the roots cool, or shaded by low neighbouring plants, with their heads in the sun. Feed at least twice a year when they are growing well. Prune after they have bloomed and cut the larger varieties back so they will put out more growth and flowers. Choose from hundreds of varieties. Some will bloom extravagantly in spring, others all summer but not as spectacularly.
3 For fruit: passionfruit There is nothing as delicious as a sunwarmed passionfruit, eaten straight from the vine. Feed well – a slowgrowing passionfruit vine is prone to the virus that gives you “woody” dry fruit. You should get fruit by the end of the first year.
4 For scent: mandevilla You need a frost-free area for these, and perfectly drained soil as their roots can rot, but they’re worth cosseting as their scent wafts around the entire garden. The vividly coloured ones have negligible fragrance, while the scent is strongest in the white Chilean mandevilla, Mandevilla laxa, and, as a bonus, this is one of the hardiest of the species.
5 For classic beauty: roses If you want reliability, choose white or pink Iceberg; pale pink New Dawn is so vigorous it can cover four square metres in a year. Use plant ties to attach branches to the trellis, to shape it well. Expect lots of canes in the first year, but few flowers. Then wait for it to be spectacular once it has made itself at home.
6 For spring: wisteria Wisteria’s blooms are beautiful in spring, ranging in colour from deep blue to pink, with a faint, pervasive honey scent. Plant and be patient – wisteria characteristically grumbles for a couple of years, then doubles in size – and when a six-metre wisteria doubles in size, it’s big.
Wisteria has beautiful deep blue to pink blooms, with a pervasive honey scent.