Compact climbers

Few of us have the luxury of a large garden, but no matter what space you have, there’s always room for climbing plants
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Because they grow upwards not out, they clothe your walls, fences, pergolas and even your house with foliage and flowers, without encroaching into your borders.

They are also great for hiding eyesores and for making your garden more private.

We recommend 10 easy-to-grow climbers for different uses in the garden. None of them grow too large, so they’re easy to look after, too.

Summer colour


Repeat-flowering clematis are a great choice because they give two flushes of flowers, early summer, then again about six weeks later. You’ll sometimes see them labelled as group 2 clematis. Look out for ‘Dr Ruppel’, ‘Silver Moon’ and ‘The President’. Give them a sunny spot but make sure you shade their roots.

Shade buster


If you have a shady corner and you want to lift the gloom, we suggest growing variegated ivy, Hedera helix, which has colourful foliage. ‘Buttercup’ has particularly vivid yellow leaves, while ‘Glacier's’ are cool grey and white. They will grow in any soil, slowly.

First for fragrance


For a heady sweet scent, none compares to jasmine, Jasminum officinale, with its clusters of white summer flowers. If you prefer a heavier, musky perfume, choose honeysuckle, Lonicera. L. caprifolium and L. x heckrottii are the best, and like jasmine, they grow well in a sunny spot.

Tropical tastes


If you like the contemporary look of exotic plants, passion flower, Passiflora caerulea, is for you. Not only is its glossy lobed foliage attractive, but it also has quirky blue-and-white frilly flowers throughout summer, and decorative orange fruits towards the end. Give it a sunny, sheltered spot.

Out of sight


Because Trachelospermum jasminoides is evergreen, it is great for covering something unsightly. It is also very attractive, with dark, glossy green foliage and gloriously scented white flowers in summer. It will grow in full sun or light shade but doesn’t like a windy spot.

Perfect for pots


If space is limited, annual climbers work well in pots, such as the purple passion vine, Rhodochiton purpurea. With its purple-flushed foliage, blackish pendant trumpets and pink bracts, it is a bold choice. Alternatively, for a brighter look, also consider black-eyed-Susan, Thunbergia alata.

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Instant screens


For colour in a flash, no climber grows quicker and flowers more freely than morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea. It will scrabble over anything and becomes smothered with large trumpet blooms, each lasting only a day. There are various varieties and colours to choose from, although the sky-blue ‘Heavenly Blue’ is hard to beat.

Feast of foliage


Although you can’t rely on grapes to produce a decent crop in this country, many have highly attractive foliage. The best is Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’, which becomes clothed in large grey-green large, lobed leaves that turn intensely purple towards the end of summer. Usefully, it will grow in full sun or light shade.

Extract from Gardening Which? April 2007.

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