Other plants

Growing climbers

Apart from clematis, there exists a large group of climbing vines worth popularising. Climbers take up little space in the garden all the while giving a spectacular display owing to the mass of greenery they produce: Silvervine Fleeceflower (Fallopia), Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia), Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus), Trumpet Creeper (Campsis), Vitis, Parthenocissus, Monks Hood Vine (Ampelopsis), Actinidia, beautiful flowers: Wisteria, Trumpet Creeper (Campsis), Honeysuckle (Lonicera) and ornamental fruit: Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus), Nightshade (Solanum), Ampelopsis, as well as edible fruit: Actinidia, Magnolia Vine (Schisandra) and Akebia. The majority of climbers climb by twining spirally round the support, while others, owing to the presence aerial rootlets e.g. Ivies (Hedera), Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris), Trumpet Vine (Campsis), Japanese Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) and Wintercreeper Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei), or adhesive tendril tips, e.g. Japanese Creeper (Parthenocissus), are self-clinging and can scale a flat wall, without added support.

Climbers are particularly useful for covering outer walls of buildings. Apart from their decorative aspect, they also act as insulation during winter, and retain a pleasant coolness inside the house during hot summer days. They also help keep the walls dry by shielding them from the rain, and draining excess water away from the foundations. Creepers are best suited to this end, but you can equally well use ivies or Trumpet Vine, or any other climber on condition that a suitable support is provided.

Climbers can cover unsightly buildings, sheds, warehouses, rubbish sheds, etc. hiding them quickly from view. If you want to have the effect in just one year, you should try Silvervine Fleeceflower (Fallopia aubertii), Hop (Humulus), on clematis belonging to the Tangutica Group e.g. 'Bill MacKenzie' or ‘Lambton Park’ or alternatively, Clematis'Paul Farges' of the Vitalba Group. If you can wait 2-3 years, you can use any climbing vine described in this section.

Climbers can grow up various kinds of fences (np. siatki) (e.g. wire meshes). They will not only provide decoration, but will also screen us from nosy people's eyes and protect us against winter and dust. The following plants are excellent for this purpose: Common Ivy (Hedera helix), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera acuminata), clematis of the Atragene Group (especially 'Pamela Jackman'), the Tangutica Group (especially 'Lambton Park'), the Viticella Group (especially 'Etoile Violette' and 'Polish Spirit') and the Vitalba Group (especially 'Paul Farges'), Monks Hood Vine (Ampelopsis aconitifolia), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) and Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).

The majority of climbers don’t require any special soil conditions, but since they produce a large mass of greenery, they don’t like very dry and poor soils. Heat-loving species, such as actinidias (Actinidia), wisterias (Wisteria) and trumpet creepers (Campsis), prefer warm, sheltered and sunny sites, while Common Ivy (Hedera), Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris), Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia), Schizophragma (Schizophragma), Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), Akebia (Akebia), Hop (Humulus) and some honeysuckles (Lonicera) will feel better in a cooler, shaded and moist site.

When planting climbers dig a hole of 50x50x50 cm and fill it with fertile soil. Depending on the species, put the plant 0-10 cm deeper than it used to grow in a pot, at least 30-50 cm away from the wall and 50-100 cm away from the trees. Well chosen and correctly planted climbers can grow for many years, decorating your garden all year round and providing excellent shelter for birds.

Euonymus fortunei - fortune's spindle

Fortune's spindle known also as winter creeper is an evergreen species native to China and Korea with long stems that can either spread along the ground or climb by means of adventitious rootlets. 

It belongs to the Celastraceae - bittersweet family. It can grow 2-5 m high, producing 0,5-1 m of new growth a year. It has ovate or elliptic, 3-6 cm long, evergreen, leathery leaves and inconspicuous white-green flowers. The fruit is a white-green pouch, which splits open to reveal the fleshy coated orange seeds.

Only mature plants set fruit and many variegated varieties and cultivars don’t set fruit at all.

It grows best in half-shade, but is also happy in full sun or deep shade. The leaf variegation is more pronounced in a well-lit position. It thrives in fertile, humus-rich soils, but tolerates also average or even poor soil (e.g. the 'Coloratus' variety). Fortune’s spindle tolerates well urban conditions and is fairly hardy.

An excellent groundcover. The variety 'Coloratus' is ideal for covering large areas, reinforcing escarpments or covering fences – it is particularly recommended for use in public green spaces and in poor growing conditions. All varieties can climb trees, pylons, trellises, walls and rockeries. Variegated varieties are suitable for creating borders, spreading over empty space between coniferous and deciduous shrubs, or creating colourful compositions. They are also well suited for growing in large containers on balconies and patios, both on their own, or as a part of a larger composition.

  • 'Coloratus' - the most vigorous of all Euonymus cultivars. Large (6 cm long) lustrous evergreen leaves turn dark purple in autumn to become green once again in spring. This change of colours provides year round interest and enlivens the garden. A perfect groundcover plant for a sunny, semi- shady or even shady spot, especially for large areas. When planted next to a fence it will grow even a few metres tall, creating an attractive hedge. Grown with the density of 5 plants per square meter, it will cover the area in 1-2 years. Pest and disease resistant, and relatively hardy.
  • 'Emerald Gaiety' - small (3 cm long), dark green leaves with irregular white margins. Stems spread along the ground, creating an effect of a green-white wave. Plant between 7 and 10 plants per square meter. It can freeze during harsh winters.
  • 'Emerald'n Gold' - small (3 cm long), green leaves with bright yellow margins. The variegation disappears when grown in deep shade. Erect to semi-erect stems will grow over 2 m high when planted near a support (a fence, a tree or a wall). If trimmed, they will spread forming a dense mat. It may be grown next to Clematisto protect the base of the plant from the sun. Plant between 7 and 10 plants per square meter. It can freeze during harsh winters.
  • 'Interbolwi' (BLONDY) - small (3 cm long), deep green leaves with a bright yellow centre. The form is spreading in habit and doesn’t need pruning. Well suited for covering large areas, filling up space beneath taller shrubs, or edging. It grows well both in sun and light shade, forming an attractive green-yellow carpet. Plant between 5 to 8 plants per square meter. One of the frost hardiest forms of Euonymus.
  • 'Silver Queen' - a charming plant with attractive foliage. Relatively large (5 cm long) leaves are creamy-yellow in spring. Over time turn green with a wide creamy-yellow margin, which turns white in summer. It’s well tolerant of pruning and quickly forms a dense tangled mat. If left untrimmed, it will climb, attaining in a few years 2-3 m in height, and will bear rather inconspicuous flowers followed by fruit. It can freeze in harsh winters. Suitable for growing in a public green space. An excellent groundcover, but it can also be used to fill space beneath taller shrubs or to created edgings. Plant between 5 and 8 plants per square meter.
  • 'Sunspot' - small (4 cm long), elliptic, boldly corrugated, deep green leaves with a bright yellow centre. They turn slightly red in winter. Young shoots are yellow and spread over the ground, forming an attractive yellow-green carpet. No pruning required. An excellent groundcover, suitable for covering large areas, both in sun and shade, filling space beneath taller shrubs or creating edgings. One of the frost-hardiest forms of Euonymus. Plant 5-8 plants per square meter.