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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.

September and October is the time when fruit of most of the varieties of Actinidia ripens. Actinidias are comparatively undemanding, easy to grow, disease and pest resistant, and well able to tolerate urban conditions.

There are two species of Akebia in cultivation: five-leaf akebia (Akebia quinata) and three-leaf akebia (Akebia trifoliata).

The plants of the genus Ampelopsis are interesting climbers with attractive foliage and fruit. They used to be classified as Vitis but later on they were re-classified in its own genus Ampelopsis, in the grape family Vitaceae.

I can highly recommend Aristolochia macrophylla (synonyms: Aristolochia durior, Aristolochia sipho) to all garden lovers seeking a climber to grow in partial or full shade. It belongs to the family Aristolochiaceae.

If you look for a robust, summer-flowering climber to plant in a sunny spot, trumpet creeper called also cow itch vine or hummingbird vine is definitely worth your interest. Campsis is a woody vine of the the Bignoniaceae – Trumpet Creeper family.

Oriental bittersweet is the most valuable climbing plant with ornamental fruit. It is generally hardy, undemanding and vigorous in habit, which makes it well worth of any gardener's interest. Celastrus is a member of the Celastraceae family. 

Dioscorea batatus is called chinese yam, cinnamon vine, wild yam or chinese potato. It is native to the mountainous regions of Japan and China, where it was discovered by Decne in 1854. 

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. 

Silver lace vine called also russian vine is most rampant climber in cold climate. It belongs to the family Polygonaceae, attains the height of 10-15 m, and its twining stems can even grow 6 m or more in a year.

Ivy is one of the most popular garden climbing plants, cultivated already in the ancient Greece and Rome, greatly valued for its attractive evergreen foliage. It belongs to the Araliaceae family, also known as the Aralia family.

Common Hop (Humulus lupulus) of the Cannabaceae family is most often associated with beer as its fruit (commonly known as "cone") is an indispensable ingredient for the production of this popular drink.

Climbing Hydrangea is native to Far East and is one of the most original and valuable climbing plants. It is closely related to Schizophragma hydrangeoides – Japanese Hydrangea, and they both belong to the Hydrangeaceae family.

A popular twining vine with ornamental tubular flowers that are sweet scented at some varieties, e.g. Perfoliate Honeysuckle, Woodbine, Japanese Honeysuckle, Goldflame Honeysuckle.

Moonseed is a little known but very valuable and undemanding hardy climber with slender twining semi-woody stems. The name comes from the shape of the seed, which resembles a crescent moon. 

Parthenocissus is a genus of climbing plants from the Vitaceae family. Not so long time ago they didn’t comprise a separate genus and used to be classified as belonging to the genus Vitis or Ampelopsis

A vigorous climber attaining the height of 10 m (1-2 m of new growth a year) with twining stems that wind around the support. It belongs to the Asclepiadaceae family. Its dark green glossy leaves resemble the leaves of White Willow in shape. 

Magnolia Vines are climbers native to Asia and North America. They currently belong to the Schisandraceae family, but used to be assigned to family Magnoliaceae, since they share many characteristics with magnolias - structure of flowers, fruit and fructifications.

Japanese Hydrangea vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) is a lovely ornamental creeper that climbs using aerial rootlets, attaining the height of over 6m and, in its native habitat, even up to 12 m. 

Vitis coignetiae - Crimson Glory Vine is a vigorous climber with conspicuous large leaves turning brilliant crimson in autumn. It attains a height of over 10 m (with up to 4 m of annual growth). It has little soil requirements and is frost hardy.

An exquisitely flowering climbing plant with white, pink, blue or purple flowers, depending on a variety, gathered in long slender racemes (up to 60 cm long). It comes into bloom in May-June.

Ground covers can successfully substitute lawn, create borders or provide greenery beneath taller plants. They hinder the weed growth and prevent the soil from being blown or washed away, or getting too dry.