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Clematis - Beautiful Climbers

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by Colour Your Life • Friday July 1, 2016

Versatile is not a word on its own that would particularly inspire me to buy a plant, but versatile and beautiful? For me, that’s a winning combination!  Our plant focus this month is Beautiful Climbers and we have picked some lovelies for you.

Climbers are fabulous for disguising ugly or bland areas in the garden – great for softening bare walls or adding extra interest to the stems and trunks of other plants or trees.  Trellises, pergolas and arches are not complete without the weaving tendrils of a climber adding another dimension to your garden.  Novice gardeners are often surprised by the tenacity of these useful plants, they can establish quickly and some can be difficult to get rid of so choose carefully!

Using a Climbing plant against a host such as a tree trunk is a super way of getting more ‘bang for your buck’!  If your tree is blossom bearing, choose a climber that flowers when the blossom has finished so you get more from the tree for a longer period. Or, for those of you that prefer a superb show of flowers, choose a variety that blooms at the same time as the tree – a real feast for the eyes (and nose!).  Clematis especially is much happier growing in the company of other plants as their roots benefit from the protection that the companion plant provides.  Ask the experts at your local garden centre for advice when using a host as some varieties of climbers could strangle a less established tree.

There are numerous plants to choose from so in the first instance, consider the site and what is available for the plant such as sun, soil and water – the options for supporting your climbers is also very important. 

Here are two excellent families of climbers to consider that are hardy and prolific flowerers.

Clematis is an absolute favourite and the later flowering varieties, such as Clematis viticella will bring beautiful colour to the garden from late summer until early autumn.  Cascading over walls and fences, growing around doorways and windows, they’re the perfect floral decoration and can transform the most ordinary home into something straight out of a fairytale.  Look out for the following varieties: Clematis ‘Alba Luxurians’, with its gorgeous green-tipped, white sepals, ‘Etoile Violette’, with its violet-purple flowers or ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’ which bears abundant double flowers with purplish-mauve sepals.

For fabulous fragrance and flowers in mid and late summer, choose Lonicera periclymenum, also known as Woodbine or Common honeysuckle.  Flowers are white–yellow with a flush of red.  ‘Serotina’ (popular name Late Dutch Honeysuckle) which bears creamy white flowers or ‘Graham Thomas’ are fantastic choices, the latter having an exceptionally long flowering period.

Our plant choices are flowering climbers but there are many other types available.  Hedera (ivy) can provide particularly good coverage, some with very attractive, colourful foliage at different times of the year.  Another interesting option could be a grapevine.  Vitis vinifera ‘Perlette’ will grow outdoors against a south facing wall and yield edible and attractive bunches of green grapes.


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