Great Heights: Your Climbing Garden Great Heights: Your Climbing Garden
You can create a vertical display of garden growth using a fence, trellis, arbor or even the walls of your home. Vines and various climbers will make the most of almost any sort of support - even thin wires. Gardeners choose to plant vines for a several reasons - their attractiveness topping the list. But climbers may serve other functions. For some, space is a factor to consider and climbers use space that would otherwise remain unused. Also, landscapers and gardeners work with vines to disguise plain areas or spots they want screened - like the compost heap! Consequently, vines are not only decorative - they are quite functional.
Although the focus of this article is on vines that climb, some gardeners may be glad to know that they can also be used on the ground. Climbers will hide bare spots on the ground because they make excellent ground covers. Nevertheless, most gardeners train them for height and they require marvelous little maintenance. Furthermore, climbers tend to be fast-growing so you can achieve the look you want quickly with few obstacles because climbers are relatively pest-free. And, vines come in many shapes and sizes so you will have a large selection to choose from once you decide to incorporate them into your garden.
Not all vines climb the same way, so given your support structure, some vines may be more appropriate for your situation than others. Climbers tend to go upwards several ways; they will lean or trail, weave, grasp, root, twine or even cling - generally speaking. Some climbers, like Boston ivy, will actually stick to a surface. Rambling roses use their thorns to keep from backsliding down their support. However they manage it, climbers may reach great heights when trained by gardeners and will grow in many amazing places.
When choosing vines for your setting, you should consider the following:
- the plant's appearance
- house design
- climate and growing conditions
Also, take care to learn about your selection's growing patterns, how large it may grow, how it attaches to a given support and how much maintenance it will need. You'll also want to ascertain its status as deciduous or evergreen which may make a difference on where you’d like to grow it. The plant's behavior is quite important because some species may be better suiting for a flat brick wall, some may be quite trainable to creep across an overhang to provide shade. Most online garden stores or garden centers will be able to provide this type of reference information when it comes to a specific plant.
Most vines will grow in a mildly acidic soil - Boston ivy likes a bit more acid than most. Also, vines like a moisture-rich, but well-drained soil. In some instances, it may even be practical to grow your vines in tubs or wood planters with drainage holes present. A depth of two feet - possibly three for deep-rooting vines) is necessary and space them about two to three feet apart. Naturally, this is general information and specific plants may require slightly different conditions. But keep in mind, watering and providing mulch is good for all vines.
Pruning is probably the most important chore for gardeners when it comes to vines. Pruning should be done regularly - begin when the plant is young. A foliage vine will require pruning at any given time, but most woody vines will only need it once a year so this may have some bearing on the type of climbers you consider. If the foliage from your climbers becomes overly dense, it may attract unwanted birds and insects, so pruning is the only method to avoid this.
Of course, the type of plant you choose is a matter of taste and your garden's conditions, but there are many spectacular vines to choose from. A particularly lovely choice might be the passionflower vine - it loves sunny days and cool nights and will thrive given those conditions.
Bougainvilleas are famous for their attractive blossoms - the Brazilian variety is known for its extreme beauty - but keep in mind that it is an aggressive grower and requires substantial pruning. These vines are great for fences where screening is necessary, but also look stunning against arbors or pergolas.
Trumpet creeper vine has trumpet or funnel-shaped blooms or red or orange. They require full sunlight. They are a great choice for a stone wall providing they have a rich well-drained soil.
Ficus, also known as creeping fig, is an evergreen that is famous for clinging to stucco, concrete and brick. Full sun is fine for this plant, but it will also thrive in partial shade providing it has a moist, well-drained soil.
English ivy is an evergreen plant that grows exceptionally well in cooler northern gardens. This dark green plant can grow up to one hundred feet provided it has a well-drained soil rich with loam and plenty of shade. It is best pruned in spring to remove unsightly growth and to train.
Arabian jasmine is an excellent way to add both beauty and fragrance to your garden. This evergreen can be trained to sprawl attractively over garden structures or trellises. Be sure its soil has been fed a healthy meal of compost; it grows well in full sun or partial shade.
Moonseed is a wonderful choice for walls and even rocks. This plant does well in moist shade so it may be a good choice for a water garden when a climber is wanted. Well-drained moist soil is best, but it will tolerate even poor wet soil quite well.
Of course, there is a vast array of lovely climbers. You might even consider training your cucumber plants and strawberries to climb. Again, know your conditions and choosing the right vines for your garden situation will be easy given their wide selection. Also, some vines will do well indoors so consider them for a screened porch setting. Remember to research your plant well before promoting its growth. While most available today will not harm your structure or neighboring plant species (like trees), you'll want to know what to expect from your particular vine before sending up the walls of your home.