by John Hicks

The owners of small gardens need to utilise every scrap of space and they, therefore, must be more selective in their choice of plants. Climbers and wall plants will provide the answer to many problems for they will add both space and height to congested sites and will bring colour to every available wall. However, enthusiasm should be tempered with discreet understanding for there are climbers which love to be baked into brilliance of flower by hot sun, whereas others must be soothed by moist shade.

Tradition has it that clematis produce their best efforts when the roots are shaded but the flowers are allowed to reach up into the sun. However, I believe a well-drained soil to be more important, otherwise losses in winter are liable to be heavy. A mulch of peat mixed with a handful of bone- meal is all the feed necessary.

I could till a book with a selection of climbing and wall plants but as before will restrict the choice to those which have been proven in the crucible of the garden. There are two species especially suitable for wall culture, butoboth need different treatment.

Few things are harder to make an impression on than a well-seasoned oak stump. It took several heart-rending hours with an axe to convince me of this. Eventually I planted a x jouiniana in front of it and now the stump is hidden by a sprawling network of branches which from July to August are covered by white, lilac-tinted flowers.

Cote d’Azur is a form of the above with leathery hard foliage and azure-blue flowers. Probably the violet-blue blooms of C. x jackmanii are the best known of all the genus, appearing as they do during the holiday months of July to September and this hybrid has given rise to many large-flowered garden varieties.

I use trellis or plastic-covered netting fitted to wooden bobbins 2 in. long, made by cutting up a broom shaft. This holds the plants out from the wall so that the air can circulate freely reducing the incidence of mildew and red spider mite. If wood is used anywhere as a support it should be treated with a good preservative first.

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