Designing with Climbing Vines

When it comes to adding visual interest in outdoor spaces, no landscape would be complete without a luxurious vine growing in the garden.

There are a number of vines hardy for our climate which combine vigour and density to create a pleasing vertical backdrop to an outdoor landscape.

Among the most popular flowering vine is undoubtedly the clematis. In a perplexing number of species and cultivars, this vine offers a multitude of landscape design possibilities.

This trailing plant is a great choice for converting less slightly areas of the garden such as fences, garages, sheds and house walls into great shows of colour.

Not all clematis’ are resilient enough to grow in the northern climate, so be mindful of which varieties you choose.

There are two categories of clematis that do well. The first category is the spring flowering clematis, a group that blooms on old wood produced the previous year. Within this group of species and their cultivars, clematis ‘alpina’ and clematis ‘macropetala’ are worth trying. These varieties are more graceful-showing clematis with fern-like foliage and dainty lavish flowers featuring smaller-flower hybrids which need not be pruned in the spring.

The second category of clematis is a group that flowers on the current season’s growth which therefore needs to be pruned back close to the ground early in spring. Be careful of which varieties you choose in this category as most clematis are not hardy enough to survive through the winter months.

In this group you will find the ever-popular larger flowering varieties such as clematis ‘jackmanni’, ‘Ville de Lyon’ and ‘Margaret Hunt’. These bigger blossoming varieties are generally the greatest performers and do best when planted against walls that provide extra winter protection.

Many of these larger flowering cultivars will also bloom until frost.

For another climbing perennial, look to the honeysuckle vine. A vigorous flowering vine suitable for a more protected Zone 4 area of the garden, the Lonicera brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ is uniquely bred in Canada.

This easy-to-grow climbing honeysuckle bears sweetly fragrant scarlet-orange tuberous flowers amidst pairs of blue-green leaves.

This twining climber does well when planted in a location that receives at least a half day of direct sunlight. It also requires the support of a trellis or fence shortly after being planted.

Generally, this variety flowers early in summer through to September making it an ideal cover for an arbour or fence.

This vine is prone to aphids, so keep a close watch over the summer season. If it does become infected, spray with Neem oil.

Other great outdoor foliage vines include Virginia creeper (parthenocissus quinquefolia, Zone 2), Engelmann ivy (p. quinquefolia var. englemanni, Zone 3) and hops (humulus lupulus, Zone 2).

Take a look around your garden for vertical spaces that can be adorned with flowering or foliage vines.

From fences and walls to arbours and arches, outdoor garden spaces offer a multitude of design options waiting to be covered with clambering vines.

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