Monday, 13 April 2015



Our gardens are either surrounded by fences and walls, or they encompass buildings which are sure to have some bare wall that can be enhanced with plants. There are plants for all walls no matter which way they face. Some are self clinging such as ivies and Virginian creeper, others need a support to cling to such as clematis and honeysuckle and others need to be supported and tied in as with jasmine, roses, grapes and other fruits. As well as blending buildings into the landscape many have very attractive foliage, autumn colour and flowers some of which may be highly scented. Some types are excellent for giving security to vulnerable windows on account of possessing thorns such as the firethorn, (Pyracantha). Then again if you are into edible landscapes then choose a fruiting form of climber such as outdoor grape Brant or a thornless bramble.
Pruning outdoor grape Brant

The difficult walls and fences are those facing north as they get precious little sunshine, but it does seem to suit hydrangea petiolaris, camellias, jasmine, ivies and pyracantha.
Climbing rose Morning Jewel
It is the south facing walls where you can really excel with something a bit more exotic. This is where I try out a range of outdoor grapes to see if I can come up with one that will ripen up in our unpredictable climate. The variety Brant is brilliant, but is more ornamental rather than commercial as the bunches are quite small, however Phoenix looks quite promising as does Solaris. These vines can be very vigorous so make sure you have the pruning technique sorted out.
Another good plant for the sunny south wall is the common passion flower. I tried this one next to my climbing rose Dublin Bay. It just loved it and gave me plenty of curious flowers, but then it tried to take over the whole wall. It was too rampant so it got the chop.
Climbing rose New Dawn
For a good scented climber honeysuckle in many different varieties will fill the bill, but they don’t need a south wall, so try the exotically scented common Jasminum officinale. Another one to try is Jasminum polyanthum, but it is not the hardiest and will be killed if it gets a severe frost. I tried one which was very successful for about six years then one bad winter sorted it out. It never recovered.
It is very popular as a climbing houseplant up a small cane and it sells as the scent is terrific, but it soon outgrows its space.
If you want a good display of flowers it is hard to beat climbing roses and clematis.
The common Clematis Montana may be very rampant but it just covers itself in flowers in spring so is well worth finding a spot for one where it can grow unrestricted. The large flowered hybrids can also be show stealers and are easier to contain.
There are numerous climbing roses to try out but the secret to good flowering is some late summer pruning after the first flush, then another more severe prune in winter.
Grape vine Brant on house walls

Edible climbers
Grapes have still to prove themselves in Scotland, but many other plants can be very successful.
Fences and walls are also popular places to grow a wide range fruit trees and bushes. Apples, pears, peaches, figs and cherries can be grown as fan trained trees and blackberries, tayberries and loganberries will all enjoy support on a wall or fence.

Wee jobs to do this week

Weeds will now start to grow into a serious problem, so hoe if the ground is dry enough or hand weed. Annual weeds can go on the compost heap, but perennial weeds must be disposed off. For large areas and paths glyphosate weedkiller is still the best and only herbicide available, especially to control pernicious perennial weeds. Some types such as mares tail will need sprayed two or three times at monthly intervals for a complete control. Spray on a dry day when no rain is forecast for the next day or even longer, and do not cut back weed growth prior to spraying as the chemical is absorbed by the foliage only, not the roots. In fact it is inactivated on contact with the soil which makes it a safe chemical to use in the garden.


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