Flowering Climbing Shrubs
Climbing Shrubs Grown for their Flowers
The modern forms of clematis, related to our native plant old man’s beard, Clematis vitalba, are amongst some of the most attractive climbing plants available. They do well on, and, provided they do not die with that mysterious disease known as clematis wilt, have long and vigorous lives. They require well-drained soil and should have their roots shaded, though their top growth can be in sun. every spring with some form of bulky organic matter is advisable.
Clematis wilt is thought to be a fungus disease, which enters through an injury low down on the stem, often when the plant is young, and the stem has become twisted or kinked, either while planting or later because of a too-weak support while the plant is getting established. The only remedy is to cut below the wilted portion at once to prevent the disease spreading downwards, and hope that fresh growth will then start below the cut.
For flowering in spring, Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’ and ‘Apple Blossom’, white and pink respectively, will produce drifts of blossom; they are particularly good against a south- or west-facing wall, protected from cold winds.
For summer-flowering the hybrids are excellent; some varieties are: ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’, pale rosy-pink, June to October; ‘Ernest Markham’, deep red, July to September; ‘Etoile Violette’, deep purple flowers in July for about a month; Clematis jackmanii, violet-purple, July to August; Lasurstern, purplish-blue, particularly large flowers, May to June and September; ‘Marie Boisselot’, white with prominent golden stamens, June to August; Nelly Moser, mauve-pink with a central reddish-pink bar on each petal, May to June and September and ‘Perle d’Azur’, light blue with a very faint bar, July.
For late-flowering, Clematis orientalis has yellow flowers, from August to October, and Clematis tangutica ‘Gravetye’ has yellow lantern-like flowers from August to October, followed by the typical old man’s beard seedheads.
Pruning varies according to the type of clematis. The patens group, to which Lasurstern and Nelly Moser belong, bloom early in summer and should be pruned lightly after flowering, cutting back tips of shoots to strong buds, immediately below dead flowers; often they will then bloom again later. The lanuginosa, jackmanii and viticella groups, to which the remainder of the hybrid varieties mentioned belong, should be cut back hard in February or early March to within 12-18 inches from the ground; this type of pruning will produce flowers in summer and autumn. Clematis armandii is pruned as soon as the flowers die, mainly to keep it in bounds; Clematis orientalis and Clematis tangutica in spring, cutting back last year’s growth fairly hard.
Honeysuckles areand so present no difficulties in growing as they thrive in almost any soil. Lonicera periclymenes is the British species and the varieties belgica and serotina are improved forms of it, flowering in May—June and July—October respectively; both are very sweet smelling, with creamy-yellow flowers, pink on the outside, but rather shrubbier in habit of growth than the type.
The passion flower, Passiflora caerulea, is a tender plant and will generally grow really well only in good soil on a south-or west-facing wall in the west country. However, it has been known to survive winters out of doors much farther east, admittedly mild ones, and with protection in the form of a heavyis worth trying out of doors in sheltered situations. Plants have been known to be hardy in London. The remarkable flowers, with their greenish-white sepals and dark blue centres make an exotic-looking flower, lavishly produced all along the twining stems, from July to the end of September and even into October. Prune in April, shortening the small side shoots.
The Russian vine, or ‘mile-a-minute’ vine’s chief merit is covering ugly walls, fences, sides of sheds and garages very quickly. Its rate of growth is phenomenal, and from July to September it produces feathery plume-like clusters of flowers, white to cream in colour, all over it. Polygones baldschuanicum only requires pruning to keep it in bounds.
A member of the same family as the potato, Solanes crispum can climb as high as 25 ft. in warm situations. It should be grown against a south- or west-facing wall, except in the south, and requires protection from frost. The lilac-purple flowers with yellow centres are freely produced from June to September and fairly hard pruning should be done in spring, to encourage the production of new growth, and to keep the shrub’s growth under control.
The pale violet flowers of this twining plant from the Far East are produced in May and early June. Wisteria can be difficult to establish, but once it is flourishing, its long, hanging plumes of flowers surrounded by the pinnate leaves would be difficult to improve on, and with the right pruning are produced in abundance; they quite often appear again later in the year or at intervals throughout the season.
Wisteria sinensis is the usual species; Wisteria floribunda macrobotrys is a variety with particularly long racemes of flowers, to as much as 2-1/2 ft. in favourable situations. A white variety can be obtained, W. f. alba, attractive growing against a red brick wall, or with a dark background to set it off; its plumes of flowers are not so long. Wisterias like sunny positions and prefer a fairly rich soil though they will grow in almost any soil. Prune wisterias in summer to cut back the new shoots to within four or five buds, or leaves, and then prune again in winter shortening these shoots even further. Tie in the new growths against the support and allow the leading shoot to go on until the required height is reached.