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Suitable position for a clematis or another climber of some sort?

Firstly, apologies for the poor photographs. My phone does not perform well when the light is poor, and today is very, very dull!

I have a rather large unknown shrub, positioned under the canopy of a large monkey puzzle tree. It is in flower at the moment but only on a small section of the plant for some reason!?I have been wondering what to do with it for a couple of years. It doesn't really appeal to me that much but helps to provide a bit of cover / privacy when sat at the patio during warmer months.

I don't really want to replace it at the moment and wondered if I could grow something up through it to give the shrub more interest during the summer / autumn months?

Close up of the flowers. Does anyone know what it is?

Looking SE, the shrub in question is to the left of the monkey puzzle trunk and mahonia, and behind the hydrangea and Japanese maple. It is about 10ft high and about 12ft wide, and only flowering on a small section on the left of this picture.

Looking SW

So the shrub in the main sits under the canopy of the tree and on the north side of it. It does receive some direct sunlight from under the canopy of the tree but not a lot. It is a fairly dry location but as you can see other plants have managed to establish under there.

So I was wondering if anyone has any experience of growing climbers through shrubs and does anyone think I could do it in such a location?  Idealy I would like to get some additional colour / flowers running through this shrub  but not as far as the monkey puzzle tree itself. I just want to brighten the area up!

I do have growing elsewhere in the garden a couple of clematis, and climbing roses that I would like to add too at some point. Does anybody think that it might be possible to add something here?

Any advice would be most welcome.


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,874
    the unknown shrub is Viburnum Tinus
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,019
    I think you viburnum tinus is suffering from extreme competition for water and nutrients in the shadow of that monkey puzzle whose roots will be grabbing most of what's available.  A clematis is not going to do well in those conditions.  

    I suggest that you add some nutritious mulch under the entire canopy of your viburnum - well rotted garden compost with added pelleted chicken manure or some well rotted manure - and see if that helps with the shrub.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thank you @Hostafan1 for your identification, googling this shrub and seeing pictures online tell me that it can look a lot more attractive than my sickly looking specimen!

    Thanks also for the advice @Obelixx I will treat it as suggested. Will it's difficult position have an effect on the plants ability to flower then?

    Should the difficult growing conditions, put me off trying any kind of climber through the shrub. Maybe I could surround the patio with a few more larger pots and grow some suitable clematis in those? It would be nice to have a bit more colour and interest down in that section of garden this year.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,019
    Given good nutrition and adequate water it will flower and thrive.  It's up to you to improve the soil to help it with both of those.  You could also consider getting up a ladder and removing a few of the lowest branches of the monkey puzzle to let in more light and rain below.

    In fact, I can see a whole area of bare looking soil under your monkey puzzle that would benefit from having soil improving mulch poured on tho I wouldn't go right up to the tree trunk.   If you can dig out that bare, thin looking bit of grass and bring the whole bed out and round the viburnum to the paved area in a sweeping curve you could then pile on the compost/manure soil improver and add some lovely colourful plants using a mixture of spring bulbs such as hardy cyclamen nearer the tree and daffs nearer the light - creamy white ones would lighten the area - and then perennials or maybe another shrub with variegated foliage that doesn't mind some shade.

    Once they're planted and well-watered, mulch the whole area with a decent layer of chipped bark to help retain moisture.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Don't forget that most species clematis, of which there are over 300 forms, grow through shrubs and trees in their native environments, without any help from man.  Lots of clematis will romp away happily through your shrub, I would recommend clematis mandschurica with its small white flowers, obviously there would not be as much scent as if in sunshine.
  • Thanks @Obelixx for the continued advice, i will now have to try to help with the overall health condition of the shrub. I quite like the idea of some additional low level planting too, it looks as if my lawn may be getting smaller, again!

    Thanks too @Richard Hodson a great suggestion for a clematis. If i could get it looking half as good as your picture i would be happy. It has to be worth a try! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,872
    The important thing is to make sure you get any plant well established initially, which often means a bit more work when there's neighbouring shrubs or trees. Some climbers there would give you some decent privacy and extra interest, so it's worth persevering  :)
    Choose something which suits, and prep well and you should get a good result. It's always important to work with your own climate and conditions, rather than fighting them too. Don't forget about herbaceous clematis too, for your groundcover. There are lots of delightful types, and it makes a nice change from the usual geraniums and vinca etc. I'm sure @Richard Hodson would offer a few ideas about those.
    You can add bulbs as well for extra seasonal colour, and very little care. Many of them are very happy with shadier conditions - cyclamen would be lovely for autumn, but make sure you get the right ones as some aren't hardy.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks for the encouragement @Fairygirl I shall persevere although it might take me some time to make any great improvement. I am slowly discovering the importance of choosing more carefully the right plant for the right spot together with doing the relevant preparation work. I am relatively new to gardening and am enjoying the challenge very much! I am also finding following threads on this forum a great help too so thanks to all contributors.
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