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Through the Garden Gate

Climbers are plants and vines that need some form of support. In nature they can be supported by rocks, sloping land or other plants. In our gardens we can add constructions such as walls, pergolas and fences to the list.

Climbers are very useful because they take up little space, can cover eyesores, create green dividers and provide shade and privacy – all this plus bursts of seasonal colour. 

A climber on a support is a long term aspect of your garden, so select a plant that is just right for your site and which does the job you want. Consider soil type, amount of sun and climate. A frost sensitive Allamanda, requiring moist soil, would not be a good choice for our low rainfall frosty area. Don’t plant a beautiful wall of deciduous clematis to screen out an eyesore - when autumn comes and the leaves drop off, all will be revealed. 

Consider the impact the roots of your climber will have on drains, paths and other people’s gardens or land. Ivy, which can cling to a wall or tree and grow vertically as a creeper, can also head off across the ground at a great pace, slip under a fence and smother your neighbour’s plants. 

Take particular care when choosing a climber that will be supported by a shared fence, since anything vigorous growing on it could cause the structure to deteriorate. The tendrils of a wisteria can creep into gaps, thicken as they grow and rip palings apart. An option would be to use a wire support in front of the fence on your side and to choose only plants that are not too vigorous or invasive. 

Climbers need ongoing care – training, feeding and pruning. Pruning of a deciduous plant is done in winter. Training of any young climber is continuous until it has reached the desired size. Check out the pruning technique suited to your climber. Many, once established, only need a tidy up. We planted a beautiful ornamental grape over our pergola. To train it, we removed the side growths to force it to make upward growth. Once it had gone three metres up and three metres across, we pinched the tip out, forcing it to start making lateral (side) growth. We selected lateral growths about 60 cm apart to keep and took off the others. Next year, in its third year, the pergola will be covered. 

Here are some climbers that do well in Southern Victoria. Remember, it is always a good idea to check out what others are growing in your area. D is for deciduous, E for evergreen.

Ornamental grapes D – summer shade, autumn colour, winter sun comes through.

Fruiting grapes D – check variety suits climate, also autumn colour.

Wisteria D – glorious flowers in spring, lush foliage in summer, keep in control.

Clematis D – needs sun but moist shaded roots - mulch, lovely blooms.

Honeysuckle E & D – vigorous, avoid variety Lonicera japonica (on the weed list). 

Rose D – so many beautiful ones to choose from, prune in winter, some are thornless.

Clematis aristata  E, native – white flowers in spring, delicate look, prune to tidy.

Star Jasmine E – takes shade, perfumed white flowers in winter, vigorous, not invasive.

Jasmines E – highly scented, may bolt to reach light & leave bare branches at eye height. 

Pandorea jasminoides E – native, pink or white flowers, vigorous, frost protection when young, not near underground pipes.

Hibertia Scandens E – native, moderate frost tolerance, yellow flowers, tough.

Hardenbergia E native – winter flowering mauve, pink or white, full sun, hardy.

Happy gardening, 
Christine Windle, Garden Gate of Inverleigh Nursery, 

ph: 0403 267 286

Pruning Fruit Trees Workshop – Sunday June 18th, 2 – 5 pm, $35

Pruning theory & options, hands on guided pruning practice for vase style pruning in our orchard, afternoon tea, notes. Very practical, gain knowledge and skills.

Call Christine to book - 0403 267 286.

Workshops held at Garden Gate of Inverleigh Nursery, Corner of Inverleigh–Winchelsea Rd & McCallum Rd, Inverleigh, 3321