Climbing plants for all Seasons
Climbers provide colour and interest at a height, as well as working as an effective cover-up for bare fences, walls and trellis. They can also be used as a screen to provide a little extra privacy above fences or walls. Not only do they serve these purposes, but they really have a lot to offer a garden in the way of looks too. Foliage and flowers filling higher spaces helps to create a lush, tranquil and cosy environment to sit and relax, with interest at eye level and the flurry of bees and butterflies surrounding the area.
The garden is always a hive of activity from both plants and wildlife in summer, but the garden can look great all year round with the right choice of varieties. If your garden is lacking colour at a certain time of year, or you have a wall, fence or shed that could do with sprucing up, here’s a selection of beautiful and reliable climbers that provide interest at different times of the year, leaving no space uncovered (even in winter!)
Climbers for Spring Colour
There are many types of clematis which flower early on in the season. Clematis montana ‘Mayleen’ (pictured) is a large, fast-growing climber that’s absolutely brilliant for covering a large space quite quickly. Growing between 2-3m in height, it’s perfect for covering a fence, shed or part of a pergola, producing a profusion of pale pink flowers between April and June. Even earlier to flower is Clematis ‘Early Sensation’ – a more compact clematis with fresh spring green flowers which nod gently along the stems. Growing up to around 2m in height, it’s neat and easy to look after and a great choice for small spaces, flowering between March and June.
More Climbers for Spring Interest
– lilac-mauve pendulous flowers on woody, twining stems. Ideal for wall training and pergolas. Flowers from May to June.
Clematis armandii – elegant white star-like flowers cover the dense, bronze-green foliage throughout spring. Flowers from March to May.
Akebia quinata – an unusual sun-loving climber suitable for growing in warm, sheltered gardens, with abundant deep-purple blooms. Flowers from March to May.
With highly fragrant flowers and continuous blooms throughout summer, it’s no wonder that jasmines are so popular. Jasminum ‘Clotted Cream’ (pictured) is a nice variation of the traditional white-flowered variety, producing clusters of attractive cream-coloured flowers from May right through to autumn. Jasmines are quite bushy and can become quite heavy, so they’re best suited to growing on sturdy pergolas or arches. You can also trim them into a low hedge, and they’re particularly good for growing under windows so that the fragrance wafts into the house on summer days. A similar climber is Trachelospermum jasminoides, which looks very similar to a jasmine but has more star-like flowers and can be grown in exactly the same way as jasmine.
More climbers for Summer interest:
– a great climber for growing in a shaded space, thriving well under trees or against shady walls. Flowering from mid-summer onwards, it can reach a height of over 12m but can be easily pruned and kept at a more compact height.
Climbing roses – there are many kinds of climbing rose to choose from. They’re fast growing and quick to provide cover, flowering with fragrant blooms during summer. For a smaller space, go for a more compact climber such as ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ or ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’. If you have a large or wilder area to fill, try something that can reach to around 12ft, such as ‘Claire Austin’ or ‘Constance Spry’.
Clematis montana – there’s a huge choice of large-flowered clematis that will produce showy, colourful summer blooms. There are even dwarf forms (Boulevard clematis) which can be grown in patio pots.
Honeysuckle– (pictured left) is great for wildlife, fragrant and beautiful blooms are produced from June onwards and attract bees and butterflies to the garden.
Climbers for Autumn Colour
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) or Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) quickly climb with clinging stems up walls to provide a lush covering of glossy green foliage, which turns to a striking red in autumn before it falls. It’s a vigorous plant, so it’s best suited to large walls where it has space to spread. Despite its vigour, it’s not hard to control or invasive like ordinary ivy, it can be easily pulled away from walls if it ventures too far and clipped neatly to shape around windows. Creepers are also beneficial to wildlife, providing nesting space for wild birds, as well as a habitat for many kinds of insect and pollinators.
More climbers for autumn interest
Clematis ‘Princess Diana’
– this truly magnificent late-flowering clematis has elegant, nodding bell-shaped blooms in a vivid shade of pink. Flowering from August to November, it’s the ideal addition for late-summer and autumn colour, emerging with fresh flowers right at the end of the season.
Pyranactha – this upright twiggy shrub (pictured left) is not technically a climber, but its tall columnar habit makes it perfect for growing against walls. The evergreen foliage provides year-round colour and screening, and dense clusters of red, yellow or orange berries add a bright, zesty block of colour throughout autumn.
Hedera helix – While it’s not recommended to grow ivy on your house, there are so many special, non-invasive species which will provide fuss-free colour and texture without taking over, such as Halebob’ or ‘White Ripple’
Climbers for Winter Colour
Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum
) is the ultimate climber for winter colour. The bright yellow flowers are produced on almost bare stems continuously from December to March, bringing a cheery warm glow to the garden just when it needs it most. With a bushy habit and twiggy growth, it’s perfectly suited to a permanent position on a sturdy wooden arch or pergola.
Clematis ‘Jingle Bells
’ (pictured) – this wonderful winter-flowering climber provides an excellent display of crisp, white bell-shaped flowers throughout winter. It’s perfect for trellis, fences, arches and pergolas, plus it provides very early season nectar for emerging bees.
Clematis ‘Freckles’ – adding a twist of unusual interest to the garden in the middle of winter, this prolific flower with eye-catching freckled blooms looks sensational on trellis or covering a fence or shed.
Solanum jasmonoides – this resilient climber has pretty white star- shaped flowers during late summer and autumn and the delicate evergreen foliage provides that extra bit of greenery that’s so often needed during the winter months.