Caring for Charismatic Climbers

Image: Andrew Baskott/Alamy

It’s time to give your vertical heroes some tender loving care and attention, but where to start?!

Once again, we’ve had gardener’s Q&A with our team of intrepid horticulturists to tap their knowledge on how they nurture and care for charismatic climbers all over the region. Read on to discover the whys and wherefores of superb climber health.

The joy that climbers can bring to a space is endless. Creating design elements with climbing plants works with the architectural surroundings of the buildings and boundaries in a garden. Climbers and mature evergreens can soften the overall appearance linking the vertical and horizontal spaces, a smaller space feels more expansive. From dappling the light and creating a mood of calm, scented serenity they cover the hard to reach areas that no other plants can. Climbers are incredibly versatile, as well as adding colour and interest to gardens, all year round.

Image: Mode Images / Alamy

The amount of light that falls on your garden influences the choice of climbers so aspect is the  first element to consider when looking at climbers. On a north-facing wall we offer shade resistant species and varieties such as the Hydrangea seemanni. Whereas for a south-facing wall climbers are in abundance, relishing long days of hot sunshine such as the graceful Wisteria sinensis or Vitis vinifera.

Planting climbers is rather an art. Any newly sourced plant should have enough space between its base and the vertical face that it is eventually going to scale to comfortably put out its roots. More than this though, bricks and concrete absorb water that is much needed for the climbers healthy growth – another reason to give them ample room. Taking time over soil preparation brings rewards.  Dig lovely and deep and loosen the soil to ensure the roots can grow easily to find water and nutrients to thrive in their new home.

Climbing plants need a training system to grow up. Wire will suit a plant that needs to be trained and tied on, but take care not to tie it tight or that your wires are too close to the vertical surface. Leaving a good gap means that you can easily train new growth without snapping it or causing it damage, as well as just being easier to get your fingers around. We prepare the training system at the time of planting ready for the plants eventual size and coverage to grow to.

An Oxfordshire manor house covered with purple lilac wisteria blooms. Blooming is encouraged by masterful summer pruning The Oxfordshire Gardener Maintenance Team

Now is the perfect time to give your current climbers a health check. Having survived the winter, we are busy checking climbers in the gardens are still adequately supported ready for the extra weight of their new growth and full bloom in spring/summer. Replace any damaged or broken wires and tighten where necessary. It is also the perfect time to add mulch and feed where required.

Inspired with these bounding beauties? We design gardens with verdant vertical spaces and maintain them as they grow to full glory.

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