Clematis and Other Climbers


Clematis; photo Dana Moos

Climbing Plants for a Pergola

Pergolas are perfect as a special feature in your garden. There are those who are quite happy to leave their beautiful new pergola just as it is to be viewed in all its glory. This is particularly true of some of the modern constructions which just look amazing.

But for me, a pergola needs plants. Just think of all the possibilities when you choose different colours and scents. Here are some ideas for climbing plants.

This is a real favourite as it is so versatile and there are a lot of different types; if you choose a few different varieties carefully, you could have a clematis flowering almost all year round. A vigorous climbing variety, such as “Prince Charles” would be a perfect partner for a climbing rose. Plant in a large hole with plenty of organic matter. The root ball should sit 5cm below soil level. Soak well. They like their roots to be cool, but their heads in the sun. Use string or twine to hold the stem gently to the uprights.

Think of pergolas and you probably think of wisteria. Wisteria can grow up to 25 feet or more. The most popular is Chinese wisteria Wisteria sinensis, which produces big flower clusters in spring. The flowers are usually lilac but can be white.
The flowers of Japanese wisteria, Wisteria floribunda, can be purple , white or pink.
The soil needs to be prepared with well rotted manure. Water well after planting. Young vines will not flower until they are established. Some pruning every year will keep the plant under control and encourage it to flower.



Wisteria and roses on a pergola

Sweet pea
For a real cottage garden look, there is nothing like the sweet pea. And the big bonus is the sweet scent it gives off. It is an annual, so you will have to plant fresh every year, but well worth it. However, don’t forget the everlasting sweet pea, Lathyrus latifolius ‘White Pearl’. Although not scented, it produces a mass of white blooms every year and looks great with a purple clematis.


Honeysuckle photo me'nthedogs

As we are talking about scented climbers, we have to mention honeysuckle. . A good example is Lonicers periclymenun serotina will produce scent and flowers for several weeks. The flowers are a wonderful two-toned cream and dark red. Do your home work though as some varieties have no scent

Star jasmine
Although not fully hardy, this is a great evergreen climber for milder areas. The pure white flowers have a wonderful fragrance.

Climbing Roses
Well here is a huge subject, what with climbers, ramblers and scramblers! They can be perfect for a pergola if you don’t mind something with thorns. One favourite is ‘American Pillar’ with stunning pink flowers. Scented climbers include ‘Allgold’ and ‘Maigold’ and ‘Mermaid’. More about climbing roses soon.

photo credits; Dana Moos; me’nthedogs


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