The climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea petiolaris, is helpfully self-supporting, its branches clinging by means of aerial roots, in much the same way as ivy does. It can be a little slow at first, being wary of putting on too much growth before it has a really firm hold, so it is wise to secure it a little during its first few seasons. After that, it romps away unaided, easily covering any vertical space you care to place in its path.
Its light-green, oval leaves are toothed and slightly curled and turn a buttery yellow in the autumn. Its flat, lace-cap flowers are creamy white and appear from June in trusses up to 8in across. They fade to brown, becoming dry, papery clusters that last well after the summer's end.
In the winter, the hydrangea is no less attractive for its branches, which soon become handsomely twisted and gnarled, and rich mahogany in colour, covered in bark which splits and peels. In February, as soon as there is some hint that a new season is just around the corner, these beautiful branches are covered in bright, fresh-green leaf-buds.
The familiar winter jasmin, Jasminum nudiflorum, is a thoroughly hardy plant that will also grow without sun. The hydrangea will provide an excellent support for its tumbling, whip-like, green stems, and a foil for the welcome, bright-yellow flowers that appear throughout the depths of winter. It will need a little more attention than the hydrangea. Recently flowered shoots should be cut back to within 2in to 3in of their base, and some of the oldest stems should then be removed completely. If it gets very untidy and really out of hand, cut it back as hard as you like.
The hydrangea's summer foliage can easiy protrude 3ft from the wall and, in a narrow border, anything planted too close will be swamped and shaded. The English bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, with its blue, scented, bell-shaped flowers, would be ideal in this position (as would many spring- flowering bulbs), for it puts out its leaves and flowers before the climbers have achieved much growth.
Three plants that look good together:
Hyacinthoides non-scriptaReuse content