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Predicting the Future. Part 8. Frames and Climbing Forms

As we continue our journey on what I believe will happen in Horticulture, Garden Design and Gardening, here is a relatively short and simple prediction that has two/three elements to it.

I predict that in 2020...


We will better recognise the value of vertical landscapes. Both in terms of living walls, but more importantly and indeed accessibly in terms of climbing plants and quality plant structures.


While I'm sure that green/living walls will continue to improve in quality, become more accessible in terms of price and ease of use to the consumer and that their popularity will further rise, here I want to talk about trellis and climbing plants exclusively.


Whether you prefer a high spec wired support, a woven green-wood structure, or a fine wooden trellis, quality is the future. Bespoke trellis work is well within the skill set of a hobby woodworker or gardener. You needed have a great deal of experience or specialist equipment to be able to make your own unique, highly designed or brilliantly simple solutions at home or as part of a professional project.

In my experience, generally there are only four reasons why wooden trellis (home-made or bought) fail.


1. Unsuitable types of timber, insufficient dimensions of timber or poorly treated timber can break or degrade quickly.

2. Inappropriate fixings used to hold it together or fittings to affix it to a surface.

3. The strength of the trellis is insufficient to hold the weight of plant material from the climber/s selected.

4. The surface to which a trellis is fixed is inadequately strong to hold the weight of the trellis and/or plant.


As long as you have these elements covered, you should be fine.



I foresee more in the way of unique solutions being undertaken across the UK in 2020. Some will be entirely bespoke, but the canny will simply modify good quality ’off the shelf’ trellis to make covered seating areas, walkways, arches, climber covered screens and baffles and so much more.


Think outside the box to create exiting permanent or non-permanent and cost effective solutions to improve your or your client's gardens.


With an increased need for seclusion in our gardens and a desire for flower, scent, beneficial insect plants and diverse vertical design accents; climbers make a great solution to this problem.


Clematis and Lonicera (Honeysuckles) will inevitably be the most popular selections, but look out for some of the beauties listed below as well and don’t be scared about putting two or three climbers together to extend your season of interest.


Stately Wisteria are always worth a go, though they will ultimately get very large and their stems, foliage and flower ridiculously heavy. Judicious pruning and even root restriction in pots can keep some varieties like ‘Domino’, ‘Issai’ (pictured below) and the newer variety of ‘Amethyst Falls’ in check.



For very sheltered spots, try (Bluebell Creeper) Sollya heteraphylla, less Hardy Passionflowers like Passiflora caerulea ‘Constance Elliot’ or the ultra exotic and less hardy still P. exoniensis (which I have had limited success with in the past).


Consider other fun and surprisingly hardy climbers like the Chocolate Vine (Akebia quinata), The Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides or better still T. asiaticum), or poisonous but beautiful (Potato Vines) Solanum jasminoides ‘Album’ and S. crispum ‘Glasnevin’


Or sprawling shrubs that train well like Buddleja alternifolia, Pyracantha varieties, Chaenomeles species and cultivars (my favourite is ‘Yukigoten’), Ribes speciosum or R. laurifolium and Abutilon cultivars and the species megapotanicum.


Why not plant some edibles like Vitis (Grapes), Actinidia (Kiwi) or Humulus (Hops) to do a little home-brewing? Tender edibles like Melons, Cucumbers, Peas, Beans, Tomatoes, Squashes and Cucamelons can be ornamentally valuable and delicious temporary climbing/sprawling plants.

Other tender climbers like Cobaea scandens (Cup and Saucer Plant), Thunbergia alata (Black Eyed Susan), Lathyrus (Sweetpeas and there are lots!), Ipomoea (Bindweeds also lots of them), Rhodochiton atrosanguineum (Bell Vine) and Tropaeolum species

and varieties (Nasturtiums) (Tropaeolum majus pictured below) are all worth growing from seed each year to inject masses of flower and colour into your plantings.


So there are a few less common options for you to think about, but you could look for less common species and cultivars of very common climbers.


A small selection follows.

Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘Lowii’ (Fine-leaved Boston Ivy)

Jasminum officinale ‘FIona Sunrise’ (Yellow leaved Jasmine) (Pictured above)

Clematis x triternata ‘Rubromarginata’ (Bubblegum Clematis), C. napaulensis (summer dormant clematis) or the late season C. ‘Bill MacKenzie’ (pictured below)

Lonicera henryi ‘Copper Beauty’ (Honeysuckle)

Hedera helix ‘Sagittifolia’ (Fine leaved Ivy)

And let us not forget, any one of the several hundred species and

cultivars of Roses that will climb or ramble.



Whatever your taste or design objective, there is bound to be a climber out their to suit and when partnered with a great structure a winning combination is sure to be formed.





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