Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sociable Climbers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sociable Climbers

Article excerpt

Byline: Pattie Barron

CLIMBERS are a garden's best ally. You can use them to screen, camouflage, provide shade and shelter as well as add welcome height to a flat-plane garden. Best of all, you can transform a wall of cheerless concrete into a sheet of vibrant colour -- just plant a Clematis viticella Etoile Violette this autumn, stand well back, and wait for the profusion of flowers next summer. All you need do is cut the stems back to base every spring.

However, if you want a clematis that blooms rather earlier -- late winter, in fact -- plant an evergreen Clematis armandii, which has large, oval, glossy leaves and highly scented white flowers. This is the clematis to transform and perfume a shady patio, and provide you with fragrant flowers throughout the greyest weeks of the year. If you're planting it against a fence, copy the designers' trick and paint or stain the fence black, to give the effect of more plant, less backdrop.

A flat space is a dull space, whether garden, patio or courtyard. Bring it to life with a pergola, loggia, or even a simple arch or three spaced down the garden path, and plant an evergreen jasmine at every post to give you, within a few years, a fragrant green room.

The best-behaved climber in town, Trachelospermum jasminoides, has lightly burnished tints on its foliage at this time of year, and for weeks in summer provides masses of white blossom that looks and smells like jasmine. Given a little coaxing, this climber will entwine itself around each post before zipping across horizontal beams or twirling around the curve of an arch. It's handy smaller-scale as well, to camouflage a drainpipe, converting it into a flowery maypole.

Vines will bring more than a touch of the Med to a pergola or any garden structure. Most grapevine foliage takes on some degree of autumn colour -- and bunches of grapes dangling overhead look so seductive -- but if you're after stupendous autumn colour in all its glorious shades, treat yourself to vine Vitis Brant, which also produces small, sweet bunches of dark grapes.

When ground space is limited, the only way is up. …

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