Small Garden Solutions (Part 1): vertical space and deciduous climbers

Hello! It’s been another busy week. With so much gardening and home renovations going on along with full-time work, it feels like I have very little time left to blog after all is said and done, so bare with me please!

Today’s post is all about utilising the best use of the space in your garden. Since many of us do not have acres of land in which to call our gardens, it makes sense to use the most of the space you’ve got. What’s more, if you can’t grow outwards, you might as well mimic what climbing plants do: grow upwards. If you read my blog, you may already know that I have a relatively small garden (in relation to acres) and whilst I am happy with my lot (excuse the pun) I still want to utilise the space I’ve got. Since of course, where ever would I fit the pond and the decks and the firepit and the greenhouse and the fruit bed and the…? Yes, you get the picture. I like to fit as much in my garden as I can and I actively encourage everyone else to do the same and forgo the standard square of lawn in the centre and flower borders along the edge of the garden.  I have more than a fair share of climbers in my garden, so I’ve split them into deciduous and evergreen. I’ll start off for now with the deciduous.

Deciduous climbers really come into their own at this time of year because along with all the other herbaceous perennials emerging after their Winter slumber, the deciduous climbers’ woody branches (or woody stumps if you’ve pruned them) suddenly begin to sprout with new leafy growth. I love seeing the garden change so much week to week at this time of year! Anyway, we’ll start off in The Honeysuckle Garden with the wisteria sinensis ‘Prolific’.

It is early yet for my wisteria – it is yet to flower and I’m sure I did buy it in flower… but no matter, I can wait. This Wisteria will be trained up the wall of the house on this side and then over the pergola. Said pergola has yet to be built of course… Hopefully Mr Meadow and I will tackle that soon. I am imagining beautiful cascades of grape like wisteria blooms draping down filling the air with their beautiful aroma. This area is right outside the patio doors for the dining area too, so I want to sit at meal times and enjoy the view and the scent! This is how the wisteria looked when I dug it out of the ground last year and put it in a temporary pot when we moved into our new home:

May 2016

Yes… let’s just say that the training of the Wisteria will take some time and patience… I’ll keep you updated, heh! This climber requires more time and energy to train it into shape and also requires pruning twice a year to keep it in shape (and size once it takes off, because it is a vigorous grower) and also to encourage flowering. So I wouldn’t recommend this climber for beginners. However, there are other climbers in other areas of the garden that are perfect for beginners.

For instance, moving into The Honeysuckle Garden we come to the clematis hybrid ‘Bernadine’ which has the most beautifully delicate pale lilac flowers. This year the plant has burst into life and is smothered with flower buds just waiting to bloom. I just planted this clematis in the ground last year with plenty of compost, watered it during dry spells and it is doing amazingly well… I would really recommend this clematis for beginners as I have not even pruned this clematis since I bought it some years ago and it is getting better and better every year! Here is what ‘Bernadine’ looked like in bloom last year:

June 2016 2

As with all my plants, I just give them a feed of bone meal and a good working in of compost into the planting hole and worked into the soil around the planting hole to encourage the roots to spread out into the surrounding soil and feed the plant as it grows. I also mulch with a general purpose compost or bark mulch to repress weeds and retain moisture in the soil; all very simple jobs and it does the job of sustaining healthy growth. Anyway, moving back on to the other climbers in the garden.

On the opposite side of the archway leading to The Rose Garden is the Lavatera latifolius ‘Pink Pearl’. Now, before I found this plant, I presumed that many people only grow sweet peas from seed each year (ie, as an annual) as I had done myself in the past. But then I stumbled across this beauty! This year will be the first year I will have seen it in all its glory. You can’t beat sweet peas for their delicate beauty, enchanting scent and prolific flowering which are excellent for cutting. Granted, the blooms do not last long in a vase once cut, but with this plant, the more you cut, the more blooms it produces! Simply beautiful. I have no photos of this sweet pea in my records as it was put in late last year, but I will update you as it begins to bloom this year.

Moving into The Rose Garden and one of the stars at the moment is this clematis montana rubens ‘Pink perfection’:

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These gorgeous hint of pink flowers smother the plant and it is incredibly low maintenance. Simply provide it with a trellis, wall or wires to ramble and twine around and it will do its own thing! This is one of my favourite climbers and it is a beautifully early flowering plant to start off the beginning of the show because it is an early flowerer.

Another plant that I am yet to see the true beauty of is the climbing rose ‘Haendel’ I planted when I extended the flower bed in The Rose Garden and built my own DIY wooden obelisk a few months ago, which you can read about here. The photo below is from about two months ago when I first put the obelisk in situ and the planting has changed so much recently! I must show you some updates when I get chance! The climbing rose is growing strongly and I can’t wait to show you the new blooms this year.

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An additional clematis in this area of the garden is this clematis montana ‘Rebecca’. Like ‘Bernadette’, this clematis has proven to be low maintenance in terms of me only lightly pruning it (however, I think it would even do just fine being left well alone). The flowers on ‘Rebecca’ are a beautifully deep fuchsia and I am using an old cane obelisk as a plant support for it at the moment. It just twines itself up the canes without my assistance. The only tending I do is some dead heading to prolong the flowering season. On a side note, I intend to change the cane obelisk to another DIY wooden obelisk to match the one in the centre of the main bed in The Rose Garden. I like obelisks because they add structural interest to that area of the garden once Winter arrives and the roses and other plants are either looking bare or have died right back down the ground. Here is ‘Rebecca’ flowering happily last year:

Jul 2016

Following on from here, we’re back to the apple tree in The Edible Garden that I just posted about recently (you can read about that here) that I am planning on training vertically up the fence panel. Okay, so this isn’t technically a deciduous climber, but it is about utilising the vertical space you’ve got! It doesn’t look too exciting right now as it is only in its first year here, but watch this space… literally:

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Near to the apple tree in The Edible Garden in the raised fruit bed, I planted a row of raspberry canes (see photo below) which are excellent for the obvious reason of freshly grown raspberries in your garden, but they also create some interest and vertical structure due to their vertical growth habit. Raspberries are also incredibly easy plants to grow for beginners, but beware where you plant them as they do like to spread and pop up new canes prolifically. You can always pot on new canes to plant out in a new part of your garden or give them out to friends, relatives or neighbours.

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The raspberry canes have now filled the support and I will have to extend it higher when I have the chance. This photo is from about two months ago so much more growth has taken place since then!

Moving on to The Blackberry Garden, I planted a new clematis in this area last week called ‘Vyvyan Pennell’. It has a mixture of single, semi-double and double flowers which should be an interesting variation on the other clematis that are planted in the garden. Here it is (pictured below) beginning to flower, so it is a great addition to the garden at this time of year to add an early bloomer for visual interest whilst other plants are just getting growing.

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Anyway, that’s all for today! I hoped you enjoyed seeing what deciduous climbers are in my garden at the moment, finding out how you can utilise the vertical space in your garden by training fruit trees vertically on a fence panel and how you can use plants with a vertical growth habit to use the best use of your space. I will be putting up a post soon about the evergreen climbers in my garden.

Let me know what you thought about this post, I hope you enjoyed it.

Happy gardening!

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Written by Bethany Wright at The English Meadow

 

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