Gardening: A book of climbers

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ANYONE WITH a bare wall to fill should get hold of Creative Climbers by Paul Williams (Conran Octopus, pounds 12.99). Mr Williams is head gardener at one of my favourite gardens, Bourton House, Bourton-on-the-Hill in Gloucestershire, which I've written about before. Here is a writer you can trust. All the information is practical and relevant. There is a brief but inspiring directory of interesting climbers, such as Aconitum hemsleyanum, a lovely climbing monkshood that has hooded mauve flowers in late summer.

Throughout the book are practical projects, designed to find solutions for a wide range of garden problems. What should you grow on a balcony's trellis divider? White-flowered solanum, with rhodochiton and old-fashioned, scented sweet peas, suggests Mr Williams. What can you use to support scrambling pumpkins in a vegetable garden? Blue plastic water pipe, threaded through with thin dowel, is the answer. The pipe, strengthened by the wooden dowel, can be bent into a semicircular igloo which will support climbing French beans and tomatoes as well as squashes.

Some of the projects are too fanciful to take seriously. If I had a stepladder as good as the one shown on pages 66-67 of this book, I would not leave it awkwardly abandoned in the middle of a flower border, even to support a clematis as lovely as the `Duchess of Albany'. But that is a quibble. The book is as instructive as it is beautiful.

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