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'Clematis mesh'

AstraeusAstraeus Posts: 322
edited June 2021 in Tools and techniques
We have this space at the west-facing end of our garden.



I plan to cover the vertical gaps and the unattractive fencing with climbers, basically to clothe the entire back boundary with planting. I'm undecided between a combination of pyracantha Orange Glow (which we have and which need a home after losing their last one because of landscaping), viticella Bill McKenzie, clematis Emilia Plater and lonicera delavayii or Belgica. The horizontal run is 9m and the fence height is 1.8m.

No matter which climbers we choose, our priority for now is getting a suitable support system in place. I am inclined to go with the Gripple system, spaced approximately 250mm vertical (which would be on the line of the 'front' horizontal panels) but then I saw that Taylor's advocate for a clematis mesh system. Would the Gripple system work as well as mesh for this purpose? I worry that the mesh will be unsightly when the plants are not covering it whereas the Gripple system is thin enough to ignore.

EDIT: It isn't clear from the picture but there is a planting bed at the base which is approx. 50cm from front to back. And, don't worry, we will paint the fence before anything else!
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  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 10,798
    I'd be inclined to go for the Gripple system as I've used it for years.
    I've also got panels of plastic green or brown mesh tied to a couple of my wooden fence panels - primarily for a pink jasmine which I'm trying to train horizontally instead of vertically and ditto for an unknown clematis and a honeysuckle. The mesh does make it easier for the clematis to twine round but as you say, it does look a bit unsightly when it's bare. Probably it wouldn't be so noticeable if you matched the mesh to the fence colour! 
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • AstraeusAstraeus Posts: 322
    Thanks @Lizzie27.

    With that space, what would people plant in which order? 

    At the moment, I think I'll cover the European fence panel on the right with two pyracantha. It's then which order to place three or four climbing plants along the rest of the fence. Should I go clematis, honeysuckle, clematis, for instance? Or two clematis followed by a honeysuckle? I don't have any experience with climbers so tips on what might work well would be very welcome!
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I think it does make a difference with clems how easy it is to cut them back. And also how the back of your plant and the mesh / trellis will look to your neighbour. Is the mesh easy to get the plants down from? I personally like clems that twine themselves and be more or less left to their own devices for the season.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 10,798
    @Astraeus, If you haven't already done so, may I suggest you research the estimated mature width of each climber you are proposing to plant, the season of interest for each, and the colours. From that information you should be able to make an informed choice as to the spacing of each plant and whether or not the colours will match, contrast or clash!  As you will be looking at the space during the winter months, you will need to ensure at least two of the plants have something worth looking at.
    I do like a winter flowering evergreen clematis for that reason, something like 'Jingle Bells' or  'Freckles'. My mature 'Freckles' is covering about 2-3 metres at the moment.
    To help cover the fences whilst your permanent climbers are growing you could try some annual climbers like 'Morning Glory, Sweet Peas, or Cobea scandens.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Some clems don't self twine at all...
  • AstraeusAstraeus Posts: 322
    I think the degree of training and pruning needed is one thing I'm uncertain about...

    I know my pyracantha will need to be trained carefully along wires and pruned judiciously. I know the pruning requirements of the three groups of clematis but I don't know which ones twine and which ones don't. The same is true of honeysuckle. That's causing me some concern about whether, for instance, it would be wise to plant up a fence with a group 3 and evergreen clematis and a honeysuckle given the different type of pruning required at different times of the year.

    Ideally, I can see that I'd want a honeysuckle for wildlife and a long year of interest (either delavayii, which is semi-evergreen, or Belgica, which flowers early), two clematis (one blue for summer colour and one yellow (Bill McKenzie) for autumn colour with seedheads). There'd be some overlap in flowering with the clematis and blue and yellow would match nicely. They'd all be visually separate from the pyracantha, which I'll train to form a wall 'within' a pergola. But, on top of those, I'm not adverse to a winter-flowering clematis too. To what extent would all of these intertwine? If I spaced them out correctly (each has between 1m and 2m width), would they intermingle nicely after a few years? 

    I'm all at sea when it comes to climbers. Truly.


  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
     I know the pruning requirements of the three groups of clematis but I don't know which ones twine and which ones don't....  Would be wise to plant up a fence with a group 3 and evergreen clematis and a honeysuckle given the different type of pruning required at different times of the year... two clematis (one blue for summer colour and one yellow (Bill McKenzie) for autumn colour with seedheads). There'd be some overlap in flowering with the clematis and blue and yellow would match nicely... I'm not adverse to a winter-flowering clematis too. To what extent would all of these intertwine? If I spaced them out correctly (each has between 1m and 2m width), would they intermingle nicely after a few years?

    I think they are good questions.  I would find it personally tricky to intertwine groups 1 (winter) and group 2 or 3, because one set needs pruning and the other doesn't much. It might be easier to intertwine group 2 and 3 and treat them both as a group 3. Is there scope for having a section of group 1 kept on its own? It would be interesting to find out of other members have had problems with this.

    My evergreen winter flowering Freckles/Landsdowne cirrhosas don't really twine on their own and totally flop without tying in. I didn't know this before buying and I find it frustrating as I'm trying to get them over an arch and it's not really working. I find the flowers meek and bilious, but that might be the plant position, lack of food or something else. I might be asking too much of it.  Other people might find the habit/flowering different.  Those clems might find it easier to scramble through other plants. The herbaceous clems (group 4) don't twine or climb, as I understand it.

  • AstraeusAstraeus Posts: 322
    Thank you for your very helpful response.

    There actually would be a situation where a G1 could live by itself. I do wonder whether I'd be better off having two G3 clematis alongside one another, in contrasting colours, so that I can prune them in late winter and then train them together through the year. Something like Polish Spirit and Emilia Player to offer a nice bit of contrast. If I did that, my only point to resolve would be what to plant to give an evergreen backdrop. That could well be a lonicera delavayi.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited June 2021
    would solanum be too much? It can stay evergreen through milder winters. It's v vigorous though. Climbing ceanothus? It can be slow growing.
  • AstraeusAstraeus Posts: 322
    I will have a look at both, thank you.

    For now, I'm utterly overwhelmed by the choice of clematis! Blekitny Aniol, Emilia Plater, Forever Friends, Etoile Violette, General Sikorski - if only I had the space!!!
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