The Secret Garden
April 29th, 2006
Climbing plants add an extra dimension to a garden. They make use of vertical surfaces such as walls and fences, making them more attractive features; the surfaces also increase the overall amount of growing space, particularly valuable in small gardens. Proper support and training are essential.
A wooden trellis is a popular choice for supporting a climber on a wall; it should be treated with a plant-safe wood preservative. Attach wooden battens to the wall and then screw the trellis panel onto the battens or attach it with hooks and eyes. This enables the trellis and climber to be removed carefully when wall maintenance is necessary.
Iron trellises are rapidly becoming very popular. The selection has increase and the price has decreased in recent years. These are very strong and will last much longer than their wooden cousins. You virtually never have to worry about replacing these babies.
An alternative support is horizontal, plastic covered wires stretched taut between screw eyes every 6 feet along the wall in rows 18 inches above each other and screw them in firmly. Loop the wire through the eyes, twisting it at each end to secure it. Tension the wire by turning the vine eye with pliers.
Train the shoots of the plant as they grow, aiming to cover the support evenly. Tie the shoots in place with raffia, soft garden twine or plastic-coated metal ties, taking care not to tie them too tightly-make a figure-eight loop with the tie to avoid damaging stems.
Several climbers are particularly attractive when allowed to scramble through the branches of trees and shrubs, but avoid very vigorous varieties which will smother their host. Try Lady Banks rose or Boston Ivy for a great effect.