Which climbers will be suitable to cover a brown patch of leylandii?

A 50ft length of 18ft high leylandii separates and hides the back to back neighbour's house from ours. It was planted before we moved in, 30 years ago and we have kept it neatly trimmed annually. I know that they are Marmite trees, but they serve a purpose and anyway, there are blackbirds, dunnocks and wood pigeons nesting in there every season so I don't want to fell them.
Over the past year a brown patch of dead wood has appeared right in the centre of the hedge, about 6ft wide and 10ft tall. I can't definitively pin down the cause but it is presumably either fungus or aphids and I suspect it was triggered by last year's drought and hot weather which will have stressed the conifers. It doesn't seem to be spreading further.
The question is how to mask the brown patch?
I favour planting a Clematis Viticella such as Etoile Violete or even an Armandii a couple of feet out from the base of the hedge and letting it climb up the hedge. Does anyone know if that would work? Would the Clematis self cling onto the hedge of would it become top heavy and fall down?

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  • Hi Lancashire lass, I have exactly this problem with 4 trees dying and turning a rust colour over the last couple of years. With the remaining trees we had a rogue climbing passion flower which seemed to grow quite well. I'm interested on the drought theory as we had a very dry summer last year and again this year.
    Regarding how to mask the brown patches, my sister before a family bbq sprayed the patches with green paint in her own garden bless her!
  • If it were only so easy as to just spray them (not that it has crossed my mind of course, er ehm!☺️)
    These are the problem patches. 😣
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 5,403
    Crikey, that's a cliff! 
  • There is a run of high hedges amongst my neighbour's and is probably a reaction to houses being built 30 years of so ago where previously there were farmers fields at the back, so it's understandable.
    Please don't advise I fell them, is not an option that I want to consider at the moment!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,054
    I think many clems would struggle to stay hydrated enough to perform well, even planting a good distance away. 

    I think you'd be better with something that will tolerate dry soil,and there are clems that will - the early ones like the alpinas and koreanas etc. They would still need copious amounts of water to get them going though.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • OmoriOmori Posts: 161
    What about a variegated ivy?  Can handle the poor conditions around a hedge and is evergreen.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 13,739

    I think spraying it green is a great idea, it's dead wood after all!

    Not a lot will grow under Leylandii, too dry.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,486
    Could you put up a strong trellis on very tall posts, some way in from the hedge and grow climbers on that?  It would screen the brown patch while allowing access to cut the rest of the hedge without also chopping the climbers,  and would let the climbers have better soil than right against the hedge.
  • edhelkaedhelka GwyneddPosts: 390
    Ivy? It would be boring but it would grow there and you can cut it as needed when you trim the hedge. Which I absolutely don't understand how you can do it... very long ladder? Or do you have professionals to do it for you?
  • Thanks for all your ideas, ivy is a possibility and as you say it is evergreen. The under growth of the hedge is ivy anyway so it's obviously happy to grow there and I'm sure that with a little pursuasion and a nod in the right direction, I can get it to grow up the hedge. I'll give it a go and let other Conifer sufferers know how I get on. I know that even just in our area of Lancashire, others have similar problems.
    I have professionals in to cut the hedge. They use a ladder then walk along the top! It's quite something to watch.
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