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Summer’s hottest climbers
Any empty fence, wall or
pergola is the gardener’s
equivalent of a blank canvas.
Even when the available
vertical space is taken, there’s
always a way to make more;
many an obelisk, archway
or trellis has been built
in honour of a seductive
climbing plant.
Clematis hybrid
20 go gardening summer
n summer, climbers are more
captivating than ever. Grown
over pergolas they offer
cool relief from scorching
sun. When privacy is called
for, a climbing plant is an ideal
solution, especially if space is
tight. Demanding minimal space
compared to trees and hedges,
climbers will quickly convert a
fence or trellis into a green leafy
When choosing climbers for
your garden, consider your soil
type and climate, also the available
microclimates you may have in your
garden. For example, a frost tender
climber can thrive in a cooler climate
when grown against a north-facing
wall that traps the sun’s warmth.
Also consider whether or not you
want year round foliage. A deciduous
climber can work brilliantly if you
want summer shade and winter sun.
Intensely fragrant star jasmine
(Trachelospermum jasminoides) is one
of the most versatile and popular
landscape plants and will cope with
light frost. It will sprawl as a weedstopping groundcover or can be
trained on wires as a climber. The
dense evergreen foliage is covered in
little white flowers from late spring
through summer. Unlike common
jasmine, this plant is not a weed pest.
Read about vines that are a threat to
our native bush on page 46.
Gardeners in frost-free areas
can enjoy tropical climbers such as
richly scented Madagascar Jasmine
(Stephanotis floribunda), a glossy
Mandevilla laxa (top left) is a
frost hardy climber, while Petrea
(top right) and Colourwave
Mandevilla ‘Pink Mini’ (below)
need a frost-free location.
evergreen with pure white waxy
trumpets, and Herald’s trumpet
(Beaumontia grandiflora), a larger vine
with deeply veined, evergreen foliage
and large white trumpet flowers.
Another for a warm climate, Petrea
volubilis is a picture in November
when it is covered with long bunches
of purple star flowers.
Chilean Jasmine (Mandevilla
laxa) is a super scented option
for cooler climates. This tough
deciduous vine makes up for its
bare winter appearance in summer
when it fills the air with its delicious
gardenia perfume. The clusters
of white 5cm trumpets are lovely
against the deep green foliage. It’s
not too rampant, so plant it where its
scent can be fully enjoyed!
Summer’s hybrid clematis cultivars
have huge exotic flowers compared
with its spring flowering cousins, but
the plants themselves are nowhere
near as rampant. These climbers are
well suited to a small trellis or large
pot. Flowers appear from late spring
till mid-summer on the stems of the
previous year’s growth. Meanwhile,
new growth is being formed which
produces more flowers during late
summer and autumn.
Success with
, Most climbers grow best with their
roots in cool soil and their flowers in
the sun.
At planting time, mix in compost,
plus blood and bone or slow release
Mulch to keep moisture in and
weeds out. Fine bark is ideal.
Water newly planted climbers
regularly over summer.
Be sure to provide appropriate
support. Vigorous woody climbers, like
wisteria, need a solid structure with
posts set in concrete. Have flexible
ties on hand for climbers like roses
and bougainvillea that are not selfsupporting.
Take extra care not to disturb the roots or break
stems when planting clematis as this invites the killer
wilt disease. Plant them where their roots will be cool
and moist and add a layer of organic mulch, but take
care to keep the mulch away from the stem. Clematis
are heavy feeders. Add sheep pellets or well rotted
animal manure at planting time and top up with slow
release fertiliser every spring. If growing Clematis
in a pot make sure it is a large one, at least 20 litres.
Provided they are kept well watered, terracotta pots offer
better protection against summer heat and winter cold
than plastic pots. Apply slow release fertiliser or feed
fortnightly with balanced liquid fertiliser.
Extreme colour
In vibrant shades of hot pink, red, orange and purple,
Bougainvilleas are among the showiest plants of
summer. They’re at their colourful best in a hot dry
location. When grown in rich moist soil they tend to
be more rampant, with lush foliage at the expense of
flowers. Bougainvilleas are really more of a vigorous
sprawling shrub than an actual vine but they are easily
trained against walls or kept trimmed as shrubs in pots.
There are some dwarf shrub forms, even more ideal for pots.
Trimming during spring and summer promotes new growth
and flowering. Long leafy ‘water shoots’ that grow from the
base should be removed completely.
Fabulous ‘Aloha’ and ‘Colourwave’ Mandevillas
(aka dipladenia) have the flower power of a bougainvillea
without the rampant growth habit. Dark green, glossy
evergreen foliage creates the perfect foil for their flamboyant
trumpet flowers, which keep on coming until late autumn.
In the far north they may flower all year round.
The best location is a frost-free spot with protection
from the hottest afternoon sun. Free-draining soil is
essential. The good news is that, if your soil is heavy or
your winter frosty, you can grow mandevillas in containers.
At just 2-3m tall, the modern ‘Colourwave’ and ‘Aloha’
hybrids can be accommodated in the smallest of gardens.
To encourage bushy growth and prolific flowering, feed
fortnightly with high potassium fertiliser and pinch out the
growing tips. Varieties come in rich shades of pink and red,
as well as white.
Ideal for a slightly larger space in a frost-free garden,
the charming Brazilian twiner, Mandevilla splendens
‘Alice du Pont’ never fails to impress with her striking pink
trumpet flowers and attractive foliage. The big leathery
leaves take on a puckered look with deep sunken veins.
‘Splendens’ means splendid.
It’s passion fruit planting time. Plant a young vine in a warm
sunny location this November and you could be eating its
delicious aromatic fruit within 18 months. Encourage side
branching by pinching out the growing tip and train the new
laterals along a trellis or wire support. Pruning off some of
the old wood each year encourages vigorous new fruiting
growth. However, a passion fruit vine only will fruit well
for five or six years, so if you have one reaching retirement
age it may be time to plant a new one. Grapevines not only
provide delicious fruit, their foliage is beautiful too, ideal for
summer shade.
Above: Bougainvillea
Right: Rose ‘Graham
22 go gardening summer
Fragrant climbing roses are among the most seductive
climbers of summer. Old ramblers like ‘Albertine’ are
very romantic and profuse flowering, but they do take a
lot of space and will flower only once (in early summer).
When space is tight, choose from one of the many smaller
growing, repeat flowering climbers such as deep red
‘Dublin Bay’, and golden yellow ‘Graham Thomas’.
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