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The variegated forms of English ivy look good all year round, but really come into their own in the dark months of winter.
Good types are:
Hedera helix "Goldheart" Small arrow shaped green leaves with a central bright yellow splash. 8 ft.
Hedera helix "Buttercup" Yellow foliage. 8 ft
Hedera helix "Mathilda" Very distinctly pronged leaves , coloured grey green with a silver edge.
Hedera helix "Golden Inga" Most unusual. Grey /green foliage edged and mottled bright yellow and cream.6 ft
Hedera helix "Suzanne" Grey/green with a cream edge. 6 ft.
Ivies are not fussy about soil types and English Ivy in particular,has the reputation of being able to grow anywhere. The variegated foliage types do need some sunshine, so choose green foliage types for those sunless positions in the garden.
Some good forms are:
Hedera helix "Sagittifolia": Long , fingerlike leaves. 6 ft.
Hedera helix " Curlylocks" Frilly edges to the leaves 6 ft.
Hedera helix " Hibernica" Large glossy foliage. Ideal for covering unsightly buildings.25 ft.
Hedera helix "Cristata" Frilled edges to the leaves, turning purple in the winter. 6 ft
Hedera helix "Atropurpurea" Small deep green leaves, tiurning reddish purple in winter. 10 ft
It is a common belief that English Ivy will damage brickwork. Is this true? the answer is yes and no!
If the mortar is already crumbling, then yes the aerial roots of Ivy will grow into it and make it worse. Sound brickwork will not be damaged and indeed may be protected by the evergreen covering of Ivy.
Ivy is often seen in the wild covering a dead tree and many people assume that the Ivy killed the tree by competing for water and nutrients. Tree roots are deeper than Ivy roots so they do not compete.
Naturally if a tree dies of disease or old age and an Ivy is already growing up the trunk, the Ivy will take full advantage of the loss of the tree canopy.
A curious fact about Clematis is that their "petals" are in fact colourful modified sepals.In the wild these are used to attract pollinating insects.
Look at the base of an open Rose flower to see what sepals normally look like. They are the green leaflike structures that protect the unopened flower bud.
Those brightly coloured prepacks that you see in supermarkets, can be very worthwhile if you are on a limited budget and know what you are looking for.
The range is usually limited to the more common types of plant. Buy them as soon as they appear in the shop- before the high store temperature brings them into premature growth or dehydrates them.
Do I practice what I preach? Yes, even professionals cannot resist bargains. A tiny Clematis tangutica, I purchased in Woolworths for the equivalent of one dollar last year, grew to 10 ft in its second year and flowered from August till December!
Plants with this climbing method, can be used to cover chain-link fences and for growing through other plants.
Container grown climbers come in a range of sizes from 3"pots to large large specimen plants, complete with their own short piece of trellis.
Which should you choose? It is generally true that small plants establish better, so 1 litre sized pots, (5" diameter), are the best buys.
An exeption would be Wisteria, where it pays to buy a larger sized plant in bloom.
Not a true climber, but a wall shrub that needs to be trained against a trellis. Unfortunatly not scented, but the bright yellow starry blooms appear from November till April.Excellent on a north wall, but never plant against an east wall as frozen blooms thawed out rapidly in the morning sun turn brown. 10 ft . Wall Shrub.
Fully hardy and having the largest foliage, Persian Ivy is ideal for clothing a tall wall.
Good varieties are:
Hedera colchica "Dentata": Large light green leaves that look like Elephant ears. 30 ft
Hedera colchica "Dentata Variegata": Beautiful creamy yellow variegations. 25 ft
Hedera colchica "Sulphurea": Bright yellow variegation. 25 ft
Actinidia chinensis, the commercial Kiwi fruit is a very vigorous climber growing to 30 feet plus. Male and female plants must be grown to produce the familiar fruit. Can be a little over-large for the average garden.
A more garden worthy plant is the close relative, Actinidia kolomika a deciduous twiner.
Plant against a sunny wall in ordinary garden soil and you will be rewarded with a beautiful display of unusually coloured foliage in summer.
The heart shaped leaves are most unusual for a hardy plant. The tip of each leaf down to about half way is coloured bright candy pink, graduating through cream to green.
Actinidia is easily grown, does not require regular pruning and eventually reaches 10 ft tall. A twiner.
Aristolochia macrophylla is the hardy Dutchman's Pipe and as is often the case with hardy versions of exotic plants is not as showy as the tender versions.
It does sport the curious, pipe shaped flowers in mid summer, but they are tiny, green in colour and hidden from view by the leaves.
Why grow it? Well the foliage is large, lush and heart shaped and when established, will quickly cover unsightly sheds or dead trees.
Will grow in sun or part shade and will make 20 ft plus. Must be grown in fertile soil.
Cut back unwanted branches in late winter. A twiner.
There are eight different flower shapes
(1) Large Flowered Single Hybrids.
These have eight large broad overlapping "petals" in a star like arrangement.
(2) Large Flowered Double Hybrids
These have multiple layers of overlapping "petals"
(3) Cross Shaped ( Regulary shaped 4 Round overlapping petals).
Typically Clematis montana blooms are this shape.
(4) Cross Shaped ( 4 Irregularly shaped petals that do not overlap).
Clematis viticella for example.
(5) Saucer Shaped.
Clematis armandii for example
(6) Bell Shaped.
For example, the drooping bells of Clematis rehderiana.
(7) Open Bell Shaped
E.g. Clematis alpina
(8) Tulip Shaped.
Upward facing . Clematis texensis
Make sure the plant you have chosen is suitable for your soil type and that the aspect is right for it.
Excavate a planting hole just deep and wide enough to take the root ball. Remove any large stones and perennial weed roots. The hole needs to be about 18" from the wall or support
Add some organic material, such as peat or coconut fibre compost, to the soil heap. Sprinkle some bonemeal or osmocote to this and mix with a fork.
The climber should be positioned at a slight angle towards the wall.Replace the planting mixture around the roots and firm in well with the heel of your boot.
It is better to leave the cane support in, at this stage, to act as a guide for the plant.
If you are planting in spring, summer or early fall, water the new plant in well.
One of the most exotic looking and choice late summer blooming climbers, but not for everyone. Winter hardiness can be a problem, so not a good choice for areas with harsh winters. Can also be disappointing in wet summers.
Nevertheless, give it a try if you can place it against a sunny, sheltered wall and you will be rewarded with clusters of reddish-orange or salmon trumpet shaped blooms on a vigorous plant with attractive leaves made up of between 7 and 11 oval , toothed leaflets.
The hardiest types are Campsis radicans: Orange blooms with yellow throat and Campsis Madame Galen: Salmon blooms.
Needs well drained soil and regular watering in dry summers. Can grow to 35 ft. Cut back growth that has flowered the previous summer, in late winter.
Clematis, unbelievably , belong to the ranunculaceae family and are relatives of buttercups.
There are innumerable species and cultivars From non-climbing herbaceous perennials to short climbers suitable for container growing to Monsters that will grow into the tallest tree , there are clematis suitable for Gardens large and small .
The modern thinking for pruning clematis is "Flowers in spring- don't do a thing"
What this means is that spring flowering clematis can be left unpruned.
Should you have need to, overgrown Clematis montana types can be cut back as hard as you like as soon as the flowers fall.
Large flowered Summer and fall flowered types,such as "The President","Ville de Lyon" and " Mrs Cholmondly , must be cut down to about a foot from the ground each year in early Spring.
Before you choose a climbing plant , consider the following.
(1) Local Climate: Would the plant be sufficiently winter hardy for your region.
(2) Aspect : Sun or shade.
(3) Height Required : A dainty 2ft or a 40 ft monster.
(4) Flowering or Foliage only.
(5) Soil Type.
(6) Method of Climbing: Will the plant climb by itself or will you have to provide a support and train it.