Evergreen climbers are one of the most useful plants in city gardens. Covering fences in green foliage, they blur boundaries and create a lush backdrop for planting throughout the year. There are lots to choose from, all offering something different: foliage, flowers, berries, colour and scent. Here are my favourites.
With neat glossy foliage and sweet smelling flowers, this tops the list. It copes with shade but in sun will reward you with a mass of tiny white summer flowers that smell of the Mediterranean. I also like the ‘Variegatum’ variety with white splashed leaves, or for something different try the yellow flowered ‘Star of Toscana’. Trachelospermum takes a while to establish but will eventually coat your fence in dense foliage, which just needs a light prune after flowering to keep in check.
Evergreen, self-clinging and shade tolerant, this is a useful new find of mine. It has long glossy green leaves and sprays of white flowers in late summer, early autumn. It’s slow growing but is a stunning sight once established. Happy in sun or shade in fertile soil. Shorten stems after flowering.
This is another useful self-clinging evergreen with handsome mid green leaves and large greenish cream flower heads from early summer. It will climb high, so useful if you need to cover a tall shady or north- facing wall. Keep moist while establishing.
Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’
Although strictly speaking a shrub, pyracantha can be trained to cover a wall and is often supplied on a frame ready-trained. It’s thorny and needs careful pruning to keep flat against the fence but the stunning autumn berries, dark evergreen leaves and lovely white May blossom are worth the effort. Also available in yellow ‘Saphyr Jaune’ or red ‘Saphyr Rouge’. Tie in shoots to extend the framework and shorten branches after flowering to expose the berries. Happy in sun or shade.
Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’
There’s nothing quite like the sweet smell of honeysuckle and there are various evergreen varieties. This one has white fragrant flowers in spring turning yellow into summer. For more dramatic colour try Lonicera henryi with dark green leaves and purplish-red summer flowers, or L.henryi ‘Copper Beauty’ has bronze leaves and beautifully contrasting yellow flowers. Great for an English country garden feel, honkeysuckles are vigorous and can get woody so cut back by up to two thirds in spring. They like sun or part-shade.
A seriously exotic climber with evergreen leaves and large blue highly ornate flowers from July to September, followed by orange fruit from late autumn. P. caerulea ‘Constance Eliot’ is a lovely white form. Great for a cottage garden or tropical look, it’s another vigorous climber that needs cutting back after flowering to keep in shape. Prefers sun but will tolerate shade.
This is a very pretty climber often known as chocolate vine probably because of its clusters of spicy-smelling maroon-chocolate flowers in March to May. They contrast well with the lovely bright semi-evergreen foliage. Likes full sun but tolerates shade. Prune back after flowering.
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This article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of SE22 magazine.