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Looking for a climber safe for cats and children

Hello there! We are looking for a kind of climber for our back wall, it is separated from the rest of the garden (as shown in the photo) so I dont think we need to worry about it taking over. I really love wisteria but have heard they are very poisonous for cats and children, of which I have both! Does anyone have any experience of this? Am I being too cautious? 
We live in France close to the Alps so really hot in summer and quite cold in winter (although less so recently), the wall in question has the most of the day. 
Any suggestions of other climbers would be appreciated! I really love the flowering ones! 
Thank you for reading! 


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,583
    I had a wisteria in my last garden plus cats and a small child who all grew up with no bovver form the wisteria or any of the other "poisonous" plants in my garden such as foxgloves (digitalis), monkshood (aconitum) or American pokeweed (phytolacca) and sundry others.

    Child is now adult and we have a new (to us) garden but we have 2 cats and 2 dogs and 2 wisterias and one cat who likes nothing better than to climb and hide in them. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,223
    Your kitchen cupboards are more dangerous to pets or children than any climber  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Oh thank you so much both, that has put my mind at ease! I will go ahead with the wisteria, they are just so gorgeous! 
  • Just realised I forgot to put a pic of the wall/ fence, here it is! I hope it's suitable! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,583
    Too small I think.   You'd be pruning it back every 5 minutes.   There's one up the road from us that has headed about 100 metres up the hedgerow after escaping from its original arch over the garden gate - holiday home so not closely watched.

    No idea how old my 2 are but have a look at this to see what I mean about size.   Both have had some serious pruning to keep them to this size since we arrive nearly 4 years ago.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • @Obelixx oh wow, yes ok perhaps I underestimated the size 😅 
    Do you know of any other pretty climbers that could work? I found a sweet pea climber but I think it's not hardy enough to survive the winter.... 
    Or hydrangea,but I think that they don't like direct sunlight so much!
  • @Obelixx p.s. they really are gorgeous pics! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,583
    Thanks.  Can't take any credit as we inherited them and all I've done is bring them under some control.

    Sweet peas are hardy annuals so you'd have to re-sow and plant every year.   There are plenty of clematis that would do well, especially group 3 viticellas which are good doers and easy to prune and look after and will flower all summer.   They like a rich soil and a deep root run so you need to make a good planting hole and work in plenty of well-rotted manure as they are hungry, thirsty plants.  You'll need to water regularly on hot dry spells to keep the foliage and flowers going.

    You'll also need a framework for them to climb up and I would advise some vine eyes (screws with hoops instead of heads) and some tensioned wires tied in horizontally at 30cm intervals up the fence.  It's cheap and indestructible and discreet.

    I lived in Belgium before we came here and winters could be very cold indeed some years.  I bought all my clematis from a specialist nursery run by two brothers who helpfully indicate degrees of hardiness.   I suggest you go and look at their site, see which viticellas you like and then check the ones indicated as good to -25C and then see if you can find one near you or online from a French supplier
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • @Obelixx thank you so much for this info and the link! They are very pretty, I think I will go for this as you have suggested, maybe one of the purple ones! Perhaps a project for the spring 😊 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,583
    Have fun choosing and hunting.  Come back if you need more info.  @Fairygirl is very good with clematis and there are plenty of other posters here who love them.  There's even a nurseryman, @Richard Hodson, with the national collection of viticellas who may be happy to advise. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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