that enjoy a Ramble
by Brendan Little
once asked a lecturer what was the difference
between a climbing and rambling rose, he duly
replied, "a climber rambles and a rambler
climbs"! Since then I have viewed climbing
plants in a whole new light. And while many
of our evergreen plants provide welcome colour
and structure during those drab winter days,
it is in the height of summer that these winter
workhorses can look, and perhaps feel, a little
out of place. During the summer months
flamboyant flowering subjects tend to take center
There are some superb climbing/rambling plants
which may be used to clothe your less floriferous
trees and shrubs.
The flame creeper Tropaeolum speciosum, which
I grow through a yellow flowered Callistemon,
never fails to attract attention. When the masses
of scarlet flowers appear in July to September
it is easy to understand where it gets its common
name. Later in the season when the seeds turn
to a glorious shiny purple it is just as exciting.
Be warned it can be a little too vigorous when
planted at the foot of a hedge; here it may
be inclined to smother the erect growing shoots.
Another plant, sometimes classed as a low shrub,
which I like to let ramble through the shrub
border is Mitraria coccinea, a native of Chile,
it is not suitable for soils with a lime content.
If you can grow it, do! The tubular orange to
scarlet flowers are simply a joy to behold.
On a larger scale climbers such as Vitis coignetiae
may be used to liven up a large tree or tall
hedge. The flowers and fruits are carried in
summer but the real display is reserved for
autumn when the colour is brilliant. The plate
like leaves can be up to 30cm across, these
turn to crimson and scarlet late in the season
and make this the most spectacular of all the
vines. Another chap who likes a wander, in the
upward direction, is Celastris orbiculatus,
if you have the space seek out a hermaphrodite
plant and enjoy the clear yellow autumn colour
of the leaves and the gold-spangled seed capsules.
Clematis for Brendan this year!
filipes Kiftsgate must be included
in any list of rambling/climbing plants, It
is an ideal rose for planting through large
trees be they alive or dead. Remember that dead
elm you have been threatening to cut down for
so long? Dont! Why not use it as a support
for some scrambling plants.
If you are planting at the foot of an established
tree or shrub do prepare the planting hole well
and keep an eye on the watering especially during
the first year. Well that’s my top team of scrambling
rambling plants and not a clematis in sight.