Forum home Plants

Climbers, fences and shade

Kai_63Kai_63 Posts: 81
I have never grown climbers and had a few questions. We need to get some climbers growing quickly on our boundary fence for privacy. It's two thirds solid fence at the bottom and one third trellis at the top. The area we want to grow the climbers on our side won't get any sun because of the solid fence, or at least, not until they get tall and big enough to reach the trellis when they will get up to 6 hours of easterly sun. Would climbers that are meant to get partial shade be OK when they are first growing? I am worried that if I look for climbers that are intended for full shade they will suffer as they reach the sunny trellis. In terms of fast growing climbers for screening, are there any suggestions? I want to ensure they are not too heavy for the fence, or not likely to damage brickwork nearby. I have been looking at honeysuckle, jasmine, some clematis and ivy but want to ensure I have the right growing conditions first. We have sandy, alkaline soil (it remains quite damp due to the shade). I could grow in a pot if necessary. Thanks


  • Kai_63Kai_63 Posts: 81
    When I write on a phone my paragraphs seem to disappear, sorry!
  • nitram78nitram78 Posts: 41

    If you edit your message, adding the paragraphs back, I find it retains the formatting.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,942

    Hi Kai - honeysuckle will be fine in that situation as it likes it's feet in shade with a bit of sun to grow towards. Lots of clematis will be perfectly happy too, and ivy will grow anywhere. I'm sure jasmine will need sun - I don't grow it as my conditions wouldn't suit it, so I can't really advise on that one.

    You'd be best to bulk up your soil with some well rotted manure and good compost. Clematis, in particular, need a lot of food. The main thing to address before planting anything is the strength of the fence. Climbers are heavy once they get going. Honeysuckle remains over winter as it has a woody structure, and it can get very heavy,  bringing fences down if they're not sturdy. Ivy's the same. Just be aware of the sizes they grow to before planting. Ivy can cover a huge area, and the montana clematis will do the same. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,439

    Another vote for honeysuckle; it naturally grows in woodland clearings so will be happy in dappled shade with it's roots damp. 

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Kai_63Kai_63 Posts: 81
    Thank you. The fences have concrete bases and posts (which I'm also desperate to hide) so hopefully the weight wouldn't be too much of an issue? Privacy is really only an issue for half the year so happy to prune back hard once a year if necessary.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,636

    Have a look at this article here on the RHS - 

    I would suggest pyracantha which has woody stems so would support its own weight but can be tied in to a wire framework screwed to your posts and stretched across your fence panels so it hides the posts.   If you plant several of them at regular intervals you can cut the leader at the top of the trellis and train all the side shoots along horizontally.  Remove any shoots that grow out away from the fence and can't be bent in and tied to the framework.

    It is evergreen, has spring blossom attractive to birds and insects and autumn berries attractive to birds.  When mature it provides good shelter for birds and insects and a good backdrop for other plants.

    I wouldn't go for a montana clem as they are very vigorous and need constant training to stop them getting top heavy and bare at the base.   A viticella such as Etoile Violette will provide flowers all summer long from June to September but can be cut back in autumn once the foliage goes brown to reduce wind resistance.  It then needs to be cut back to about 9" in March and given a very generous feed of clematis food to encourage all the new stems and flowers and occasional liquid tonics of tomato feed.   Blue Angel is a good clem if you prefer lighter flowers but will take longer to get established and produce lots of stems.  Huldine will spread to 6 metres if well trained and has lovely pale flowers with a bar on the reverse.

    As FG says, bulk up your soil with loads of well rotted manure and/or garden compost before you plant anything.


    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Kai_63Kai_63 Posts: 81
    Thank you, my slight hesitancy around Pyracantha was the time they take to grow but perhaps a mix of these and some other climbers would get around the weight problem. They would certainly provide some year round interest.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,636

    If they're well fed and watered in in autumn they'll have all winter to grow some good new roots and get a head start on spring.  They'll only need a season or two to get to height and you can fill the gap with annual climbers such as sweet peas or just let a well chosen clematis have its head.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Kai_63Kai_63 Posts: 81
    Annual climbers, what a revelation, I haven't come across them so clearly need to read some more about climbers. They will be perfect as a short term fix!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,049

    As Obelixx says, the viticella clematis will be great there - also have a look at the Clematis alpinas - many of them would be perfectly happy there and you'll get masses of blooms in the spring, feathery seedheads through the summer and some late blooms around now. 

    They will also cover the trellis and give you the privacy you want, and don't need pruning

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

Sign In or Register to comment.