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Flowering climber for north facing fence

Dirty HarryDirty Harry Posts: 1,047
Needing some help deciding what to plant for screening a section of single-slat fence at the far side of the garden. North-facing but does seem to get a little bit of sun at height.

Only requirements are...

  1. Flowering
  2. Attractive to pollinators
  3. Relatively quick growing- can't take years before reaching a decent height and spread. Fence is about 6ft tall and if I could get a good 6-10ft spread within a couple of years that would be grand.

Currently have a mature clematis down the fence on the left side but open to other suggestions.


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,918
    I'd still go for clematis. There are loads of varieties which will be fine in that aspect. The early ones as particularly good in a shadier site, but many of the later ones are too.

    I don't know if roses grow in that aspect - but someone might be able to advise  on that. The climbing hydrangeas are good, but I don't feel they're suited to fences. Like Parthenocissus, they're best on a wall. The latter isn't a flowering climber of course.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,330
    I agree, can’t go wrong with a Clematis.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 85,997
    edited April 2022
    We've got Clematis alpina 'Pamela Jackman' and 'Willy' on our north facing fence ... the fence is at the top of a tall bank so we look at the flowers from below ... the inky blue of the Pamela Jackman against the sky is beautiful, and the pale pink of 'Willy' really stands out in the shadows of the northfacing fence.  

    On another northfacing fence we have Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles' which is more or less evergreen and flowers throughout the winter and early spring.  Great cover for the fence and a favourite with all the small birds in the area, who spend the winter in the cover it provides, finding little spiders etc, and then in the spring they gather the fluffy seeds for their nests.  I think we also have a dunnock nesting in there this spring, but I've not poked about too closely as they're such shy birds. 

    We've also got honeysuckles on that fence ... Lonicera 'Graham Thomas' is particularly successful there.  

    All are busy with bumble bees etc when flowering. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 212
    There are some roses which apparently do well in shade, if you wanted something other than clematis. RHS has a page here 
  • Dirty HarryDirty Harry Posts: 1,047
    Clematis sounds like a safe bet then! Had wondered about roses but the choice for any attractive to pollinators is a bit thin on the ground, even ignoring a North aspect.

    I read somewhere the other day it's best to try and get a decent sized clematis for planting out, any good online retailers bar the obvious (Crocus etc.)?

    While we're on the topic of clematis, what's the best way to prune this mature and overgrown existing one I have?-

    I know it should be done after it flowers (which looks like it will be early summer) but how hard back can this be cut? It's clearly been left for years and looks the same on my neighbour's side of the fence.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,918
    Loads of good suppliers - the clematis specialists -Taylors, Thorncroft, Hawthornes. and Peter Beales. The last is known for their roses, but the clems are always in good condition, and with good pricing.
    Crocus is very very expensive for everything. 
    You can even pick up good quality clematis from GCs and even DIY stores, but it's worth doing the research on suitable types first, and then seeing what those outlets have. You can pick up young plants from various places, but they need grown on for a year or so  to ensure they're nice and sturdy before planting out in a permanent position.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,316
    There are a few single flowered, pollinator friendly climbing roses suitable for a North wall. Most take a good three years to establish and provide decent cover, so even though I’m a rose nut, I reckon you are probably better off with a clematis too 😊 
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,580
    Is that a clematis montana on the fence? They don't usually need pruning but if you want it tidied up you can prune it quite hard after flowering. It probably won't flower next year though.

    I have clematis Etoile Violette in the shade. It grows quite big. I bought it from Peter Beales but I think they are supplied by Thorncroft.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,328
    Considering your brief, I wouldn't plant roses or clematis but 2 x Pyracantha 'Orange Glow'.   About 5 feet apart.. If prepared to pay a bit extra, they can be bought at a height of 5-6 feet in 3 litre pots. and will spread out and grow quite quickly sideways, as well as up, as they are vigorous plants..  evergreen, flowers and berries.. better for cover, wildlife, and insects which swarm around the flowers..

    I have grown these on a sunless north facing wall where the sun was blocked by buildings.. 
    East Anglia, England
  • I'm afraid your choice of clematis is quite limited at the moment: I've been searching for a "silver moon" for one of my partner's clients and all the good online suppliers seem to have a very restricted supply of varieties for sale. Why this should be I don't know, but I suspect it has something to do with brexit/lockdown alliance, cos lots of the garden centres have had to find British nurseries to supply them, and everyone's still trying to catch up with the new passion for gardening.
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