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north-facing climbers?


Newbie here.

Have a damp, open area of garden that is almost north facing and currently home to ferns, ivy and skimmia.

has anyone had any success growing a clematis in such a site? The fence it would grow up is only 6 ft tall so it would get some sunlight hihger up (eventually).

Many thanks!


  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Clematis alpina will grow there. It will need tying in, but other that is minimal maintenance as it should only be pruned if it outgrows its space.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,607

    Alpina would be good but can have a short flowering period.   There are many clematis for such a site as many have flowers which fade in sun.  Have a look at Arctic Queen, Belle of Woking, Pagoda, Sunrise, Wada's Primrose which should all be easily available.  You can check their flowering form, colour and period on this site - 

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • thanks Alina and Obelixx - that's great - will look out for them at my next garden ctr visit!

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,607

    You can also try roses - Golden Showers, Falstaff, Tess of the Durbevilles will all do well in shade as long as it's got some light and they won't get too big.   As with the clematis, you'll need to tie the stems in as horizontally as possible - or diagonally - as this encourages the prodcution of more flowering shoots.

    Bothe roses and clems need a lot of food so prepare the planting hole well with plenty of garden compost and/or well rotted manure and water them in well.  Roses should be planted with the graft an inch or two below final soil level and clematis should be planted 3 to 6 inches deeper than they were in their pot to encourage extra shoots and to keep them alive should the top die back with clematis wilt. 

    If that does happen, just cut off all the stems above the ground and give the roots a liquid feed of rose or tomato food and the clem will come back.  Clematis wilt is a strange thing which affects the plant from the top down so is easy to recognise and deal with.   Clems also need protection from slugs in spring.   If you hang a bird feeder on the trellis all year round, you'll find the birds pick off any aphids so you won't need sprays.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Obelixx I am in awe image thank you very much for these pearls of wisdom - you obviously know a lot!

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,607

    Not really.  People like Alina have more in depth knowledge than I do but I do like to grow clematis and roses and I have a north wall too.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thansk Obelixx - I had thought of roses, but I have a tiny garden and there is paving there going to an equally small shed image so a climber is best.

    Just looked on the RHS and this website too and have plumped for Clematis "Nelly Moser" which seems to also love north facing walls - the colour is amazing.

    Encouraging to know others have had success with Clematis in similar sites - now let's see how it goes in my currently VERY wet and miserable garden...

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,607

    I have clematis Nelly Moser, Rahvarinne and Blue Angel on my north wall but all of these can get bigger than your 6' trellis.  However, if you can train the growning stems as horizontally as possible and wind them back and forth, this will not be a problem for you.   Blue Angel needs to be cut back to a few buds above soil level every spring and the other two need a to be dead-headed and fed after their first flush of flowers in May/June.  That way, you'll get a second flush of  flowers in late summer.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Is there a rose or clematis you don't have Obelixx? image

    Thanks for the advice, by the way - I saw that it has a 2nd flowering, but wasn;t sure how I would encourage it to.

    By the time I receive it, it may well have finished the first flowering...

    Do you normally not cut it right back then, but only dead head? Does it produce new shoots on the old wood then?

    I have a shed next to the trellis so was hoping to train it horizontally as well and let is cover that too...have I perhaps bought too vigorous a kind?!

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,607

    The Clematis Hull website lists over 600 and I have only about 40 now after losing some to 4 hard winters in a row.  The ones I do have left are good doers and survivors, though some will need nurturing to recover..

    I had about 30 roses but have lost half a dosen after this last winter and there are several others which have lost all the top growth but are now sprouting from graft level so fingers crossed they're OK and will recover. 

    Training clematis horizontally will encourage lots of new flowering shoots and during the late June prune you can reduce stem length as well as just dead head if you need to restrict it to a given space.   Yours should be fine if you can do that but keep up with the training as they can put on rapid growth in spring and be hard to untangle and send where you want them.

    Good luck and have fun.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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