Fiveways Gardens...May 2015

Let's consider some climbers for shady walls and fences.  Lots of people have problems getting the shady side of the garden to look good, and as most of us have a wall or fence for a boundary, we'll have a look at what can be done.

Whilst there are a bunch of climbers that will thrive in shade, the simple truth is, they can take an age to get going.  My tip therefore, is to spend out on a bigger plant than you might ordinarily buy.  The light at ground level near a shady wall is much lower than the light a few feet off the ground.  A good feed will also help, as will preparing the planting hole properly, adding some organic matter, and a mulch after planting will help conserve water.  Plant your climber about a foot away from the wall and angle it towards the wall, as the soil's better further away from the wall and wetter too.  Do think about supports too - even the so-called self-clinging climbers need help in the first few years.  Keep them well watered through the growing season.

So which plants to consider?  Although they won't flower as well as they would on a sunny wall, it's worth considering both deciduous and evergreen honeysuckles.  Lonicera ‘Halliana' is a good evergreen, and our native Lonicera ‘Graham Thomas' - arguably the best scent - is a good deciduous option.  Keep them hard pruned after flowering so they don't get twiggy.  There are various Clematis to consider, including: Clematis alpina, C. macropetala, C. montana, C. Jackmanii Group.  As Clematis prefer their roots cool, a semi-shady position can suit them well, but only if they're getting some sunshine.  More unusual is Akebia quinata or chocolate vine as it's sometimes called.  It has very pretty semi-evergreen foliage, and if it gets a bit of sun, has delicate little chocolate-scented flowers.  Stauntonia hexaphylla and Holboellia latifolia are well worth checking out.  They are in flower now and smell divine.  Again, although they'll flower better in full sun, they will do quite well in some shade and they're evergreen.  Take a trip out to our friends at Big Plant nursery near Horsham to buy them and lots of other wonderful exotic plants.

An excellent wall shrub for encouraging birds and bees into your garden is Pyracantha.  Yes, I know it has thorns, but if it's kept pruned properly, I think it's a really useful and pretty plant for the garden.  In spring it has a mass of lovely white blossom that's great for bees, and its berries are also pretty and good for birds.  Plus, its leaves colour red in autumn.  There are yellow, orange or red berry types of Pyracanthas.

Ivy isn't always the most popular plant, but there are lots of really nice cultivars and, quite simply, they do better in dry deep shade than most other plants. 

Lisa

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