It's a Cover Up!

Charlie Pridham, from Roseland House Nursery in Cornwall, suggests some beautiful climbers that can be used to hide eyesores in the garden! - 07 March 2020

While its true that we grow climbing plants here for a whole variety of reason (the flowers and scent being at nose height is just one of a long list),  it is also a fact that a large chunk of our plant sales are to people who just want to cover something up! So we will often get described to us an ugly oil tank, in a shady place under some trees, with a wish list that often includes flowers, scent, evergreen leaves and, just as you think you have "nailed it" and come up with a plant that does all of that, you get "and its got to go in a pot"  thrown into the mix. There are a number of ways of solving these issues (aside from suggesting a house move!)  and the first is to decide how important each criteria is. For instance Parthenocissus tricuspidata  (the Boston Ivy) is very good at covering hard surfaces, but it is deciduous and has insignificant flowers. On the other hand, it does offer good late summer /autumn colour from the leaves (and will cope with a pot!) so would be a good choice for covering ugly walls and concrete outbuildings, where even in winter the tracery of stems alters the harsh look of the underlying building. 


Parthenocissus tricuspidata

For an oil tank a better bet would be something like Lonicera. There are some good evergreens that would quickly cover a trellis-type structure; all have flowers and some are scented but honeysuckle is never happy in a pot for very long, as it tends to fill the pot with root and then gets insufficient water and looks sad. A plant of Lonicera japonica 'Acumen' would do the job quickly and could be easily clipped each winter to keep it tidy, the summer scent being a bonus. Newly arrived into cultivation Lonicera glabrata has really good leaves plus scented late summer flowers and is also smothered in black fruit at the end of the year.


Lonicera japonica 'Acumen'



Lonicera glabrata

For a quick growing evergreen screen one of our favourite climbers is Holbellia coriacea. This is a variable species and there are many different flower forms around; one of those that catches the eye is a dark flowered form. Whichever you choose it will have a glorious scent in late spring and if you grow more than one will produce large colourful and edible fruits in the late Autumn


Holbellia coriacea



Holbellia coriacea fruit

Of the many climbers to choose from there is one that does it all (almost!). Trachelospermum are relatively quick evergreens with scented flowers that will grow in shade and under trees, and will also cope with pots. However, don't expect as many flowers in the shade. There are also several variegated leaf forms which can brighten up a dark corner but again the variegated forms tend to flower less unless in a sunny spot.


Trachelospermum jasminoides

Lastly don't forget climbing plants are quite used to climbing other plants, so its perfectly OK to grow more than one sort of plant, letting one scramble through the other,  and by doing this you can cover all the elements to your wish list.


Trachelospermum jasminoides 'Variegatum'

Charlie Pridham and his wife Liz run Roseland House Nursery, a nursery that specializes in growing choice and unusual climbing plants. They are holders of National Collections of both Lapageria and Clematis viticella cultivars.


All text and photos copyright the author.