Garden designer Joy Grey tells us climbers add an extra, vertical dimension to the garden, take up very little ground space and can be used in a variety of ways to transform even the smallest of gardens.

Climbers can be used to disguise bare and ugly house walls, sheds, garages and eyesores. Train them on purpose-built structures such as trellises, arches and pergolas or through trees or larger shrubs to give vertical interest. They can be grown in wonderful combinations – a fragrant, pink, repeat flowering rose such as Rosa Compassion partnered with the award winning Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’. Here are some of my personal favourites which I have planted in clients’ gardens around East Lothian.

1. Clematis – Clematis flammula

Masses of sweetly scented, pure white, star-shaped flowers from July to October, followed by silky-grey seedheads with a fantastic perfume. Perfect for growing through a tree or shrub in a well-drained, sheltered site in full sun.

2. Honeysuckle – Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’

Honeysuckles have great fragrance, so plant where you will get maximum benefit from the heady scent. The large purple-red flowers are creamy-yellow inside and appear from midsummer until the autumn frosts. 

3. Climbing Rose – Rosa ‘New Dawn’

Repeat flowering roses give and give through the summer months. This is a vigorous, repeat flowering rose with delicate and fragrant pink flowers and a tolerance of some shade. It combines attractively with honeysuckles and clematis.

4. Climbing hydrangea – Hydrangea anomola subsp. petiolaris

A useful self clinging climber for some of the more shady areas of the garden. Wonderful lacy, white flowers in early summer and yellow leaves in autumn. Try growing it up a tree trunk and prune in late autumn.

5. Virginia creeper – Parthenocissus quinquefolia

An award winning self clinging climber which is useful for covering ugly walls and fences. Deeply divided leaves give a delicate effect and provide superb crimson-red autumn colour. Prune regularly to contain its vigorous growth. 

6. Star Jasmine – Trachelospermum jasminoides

A woody evergreen climber for full sun with white, strongly fragrant flowers and leaves which turn bronze in winter. Grow in a warm sheltered spot and prune to fit the available space.

The Grey Cottage, Goose Green, Gullane EH31 2AT
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