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Advice on climbing plants please

Opposite my kitchen window is the wall of our big tin shed/barn. It used to be covered up by a rather nice conifer and a Mahonia, until someone got carried away with a tractor & flail. The Mahonia may grow back, but the tree was beyond help so I have cut the remains down as it made me sad to look at it.

This has left me with a large expanse of corrugated tin to look at and I'd like to cover it up with some climbing plants, instead of replacing the tree. Hopefully climbing plants will not grow out into the road and tempt the flail-man next time he comes round.

The tin wall faces east so gets plenty of sun in the morning, the ground below it grows a fine crop of nettles but I have access to any amount of horse manure so I can improve the soil if needed. The wall is about fifteen feet wide and probably about the same in height, and I plan on hanging some netting from the top of the wall to give the plants something to grip onto.

I was contemplating a Virginia creeper, or a Japanese climbing fern, and a clematis (I happen to have one of these which is growing on in a pot - it is very small - and will be looking for a home soon).

If anyone had any advice, or alternative suggestions I'd be grateful. I have a feeling the first two plants on my list may be too vigorous for the space but any suggestions welcome.

Thank you.


  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003

    The clematis will need to twine on a support of some kind.....the Virginia creeper will cling to the tin needing no additional support. I don't know about the Japanese climbing fern.  I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will be able to give you further information. 

  • There was a Japanese climbing fern shown on GW last night and it was growing in a shady polytunnel and only jusy beginning to climb, so I doubt it woukld have the vigour for a wall that size or want the morning sun.

    Virginia creeper is deciduous, so you would be stuck with that tin wall in the winter months.

    I found this site which looks helpful. It is American (don't know where you are) but you can research anything that takes your fancy regarding your own conditions.

    You could always allow another less vigorous climber to 'piggyback' on the Virginia creeper for extra summer flowers or winter greenery and /or flowers too. I don't suppose it would matter too much, would it,. if the VC went up onto the roof or round a corner, providing it didn't stick out?

    Last edited: 02 September 2017 13:00:49

  • Thank you all. I do like the VC and as I am out at work most days, in winter it's nearly always dark when I'm at home anyway, so a bare tin wall won't matter to me much then :) Maybe I will grow something evergreen as well though, for my neighbours' sake.

    I wouldn't mind if it all went over the roof eventually, I would be able to see it from the upstairs windows.

    Yes, shade is an issue for the fern. That one does get really huge too so I think I'll cross that one off the list.

    Thanks again.

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530

    Nettles prefer fertile soil, so adding manure may be surplus to requirements.  They're difficult to get rid of, but if you cut and compost them regularly, you'll keep them under control and reclaim the nutrients they take from the soil.  Have you considered ivy?  Like the Virginia creeper, it's self-supporting, and unlike it, it's evergreen.  It also supports wildlife with nectar and berries, which is more than can be said for Virginia creeper.  Wild type ivy can be a bit dull, but there are lots of varieties, some quite showy.  Have a look at the Fibrex website, they are ivy specialists and I have found them very good to deal with.  And no, I'm not a shareholder.

  • I was just looking at the evergreen clematis and most seem to need extra protection in winter which I wouldn't be able to give them (and it does get cold here). Ivy would indeed be a better choice for the wildlife, and as I have plenty of it growing elsewhere I know it will 'do'.

    Gosh, lots to think about!

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