April In The Garden – Climbing plants that will give your home a superior edge
This year we encourage you to explore new ways to dress your home with some inspiration on what you can get growing for a year of lustrous and beautiful displays that compliment your home and give it a superior edge.
When it comes to the finishing touches of any home, we can often become so enthralled in creating the perfect interior space. Spending much of our time searching for the perfect furnishings and finishes that will add personality and comfort to our homes. But don’t allow the external aesthetic of your home to become an after-thought.
What are the benefits to dressing your home?
The addition of climbing foliage and flowers are an excellent way to soften your property and settle it into the surrounding landscape. Creating a spectacle that is sympathetic to the glorious location in which you have chosen to live. Embracing the natural splendor within your very own garden.
A lush green façade also helps to achieve the balance we all seek to find within our homes, by creating beautiful focal points that ground the property and draw the eye upwards. Natural elements of familiarity that we can see, touch, and smell down at ground level. Gradually scaling the architecture, inviting us closer to the solid structure of a building and making it appear less imposing.
Dressing a home with climbers is also a fantastic way to bring beautiful natural fragrances within your home. Whether it is the warm, sweet scent of Honey Suckle Lonicera that is drawn in on a summer breeze, or the fragrant musk of cut flowers, harvested from a rambling rose and arranged in bouquets across your home. The benefit to choosing a fragrant climber can offer an incredible, sustainable, and simple way of life that is sure to bring positivity and pride within your home.
Why do climbers climb?
It’s important to know the basics of why and how climbers climb before planting them to dress your property. We’ve all heard the rumours that climbing plants can ruin your brickwork and take over your home. However, that is simply not always the case. When choosing a climber, an understanding of their nature will help you to make the right choices to brighten up that façade and avoid any undesirable outcomes.
The nature of each climber will bear an impact on how vigorously they grow and how they may affect any nearby supports or structures. Climbers climb in a variety of different ways, some are self-clinging by forming aerial roots. Others prefer to entwine themselves in a helix around their supports. Some are unable to climb independently, preferring to scramble and clamber over their supports. But one commonality they all share is their tenacity to climb, and it all comes down to sunlight.
All plants require sunlight for photosynthesis to grow. However, when compared to other plants, climbers are particularly skilled at this. Essentially spending all their lives trying to hoist themselves up towards the sun. Usually, this exceptional talent is down to the fact that most climbers will start their lives as ground cover, often in the shadow of other vegetation. So they have adapted to compete, climbing and even corkscrewing their way up other plants to make their ascent. Some are even capable of destroying their competition in the fight for sunlight, by dragging them down or even crushing them with their grasp.
This determination to compete for light even causes some climbers to evolve as they age, such as Devils Ivy Epipremnum aureum. A magnificent evergreen climber which begins life in a juvenile stage, the leaves and stems appearing supple and malleable to start. However, as the plant begins to grow, its quest for light is more profound. The stems become arborescent and the foliage more rigid. But it’s not just a visual transformation that occurs, but how this ivy climbs also increases in vigour. To support this new growth they will develop aerial roots from the thickening stems, attaching themselves to nearby supports in a bid to gain more water and sunlight for the rest of the plant. For this reason, it has gained infamy as a destructive climber, due to the determined aerial roots that grow into older, poorly bonded structures. Conversely, these characteristics are excellent for enabling it to form hedge structures or walls of coverage throughout the year.
Other climbers such as Wisteria, grow from tendrils that corkscrew up towards the sun. The W. Floribunda variety from Japan twisting clockwise, and W. Sinensis – the more vigorous of the two -twisting anticlockwise. This twisting and winding characteristic is both beautiful and destructive. The stems of a winding Wisteria become thick and strong as they age. When wrapped around trees they can choke, smother, and devastate in the quest for sunlight. Similarly, a Wisteria that has been intertwined around wooden supports such as pergolas and porches can gradually destroy these structures by slowly crushing them within their woody helixes. Instead, they are best grown running parallel alongside strong supports and pinned carefully into place. Perfect for south-facing walls, Wisteria is a vigorous deciduous climber with twining stems that produce long pendulous racemes of flowers in spring and early summer. Beautifully scented they can reach around 9 metres tall but require more maintenance than most, requiring pruning twice a year to remain tidy. A very easy climber to grow, keen to climb and spread across your home, however achieving flowers can be slightly more challenging so a high-potash feed will benefit this plant greatly. They develop very strong woody roots and can be a pain to move, so ensure they are planted in their permanent location from the outset.
Some climbers are excellent ramblers and require supports such as trellis, to wander across. An example of which is Paper Flower Bougainvillea Glabra. These plants have long, flexible stems, often covered in thorns to help them cling to any supports. They find themselves draped across structures or woven in and out of latticed trellis and fencing. For this reason, they are perhaps one of the easiest to train and control spread. However, the need for assistance in their climb means that additional trellis or strength may be required as the plant grows larger and heavier, as weaker supports can collapse under the weight of the heavy plant. Easily corrected when grown up an external wall by adding a trellis or pinning additional support, however more difficult if you’re choosing to grow up obelisks that cannot be made larger or stronger.