Claire Margetts is a senior gardener and the National Trust’s first-ever Sissinghurst Scholar, part of an 18-month programme designed to cultivate future head gardeners under Troy Scott Smith. “Vita wrote that ‘climbers are among the most useful plants in any garden’, says Claire. “I couldn’t agree more and could happily extol the virtues of any of the hundreds of clematis and climbing rose forms that adorn the medieval walls, farm buildings, homespun chestnut structures and which grow in the orchard here.” This month, Claire picks ten best climbers that will grow in shade or partial shade, are happy in most soils and are generally hardy.
‘Mermaid’ is tall and vigorous climber that will grow to about 10m, even on a north-facing wall. It bears large, single yellow flowers throughout summer. In the main, the only pruning it needs is to remove dead wood and it’s possible to train this rose into gentle curves for winter structure and to promote flowering buds.
“At Sissinghurst, this Japanese flowering quince is planted beside the shady oak door of the library. Each spring it flowers profusely vermillion followed by yellow fruits.” It espaliers beautifully. Grows well in most soils and is fully hardy. Its spines make for a pretty choice for a boundary deterrent too. Climbing (4-8ft).
Also known as the golden clematis, if you like a yellow, try this clematis, bright, bell-shaped flowers of which hang like tiny Chinese lanterns, held singly on downy stalks. They’re followed by fluffy seed heads. Look out for the compact climbing cultivar, ‘Little Lemons’. 10ft.
“A seriously good doer,” says Claire, “thriving in some of the most shady, inhospitable areas of the garden. It’s great for pollinators and bears a profusion of
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