Forum home Problem solving

Holly tree, cematis montana and bird cover

LG_LG_ Posts: 4,255

I wonder if anyone can advise me? I have a holly tree in my garden that has had a montana growing through it unchecked for years. I want to keep the tree for two main reasons - it is in exactly the right spot to shelter me from views from nearby windows, and it is heavily used by birds for shelter and to recce before visiting the nearby feeders.

The tree, and the clematis, had got completely out of hand - there was so much dead clematis the holly was pretty much invisible, but it had also grown all out of shape and too big for its spot. When we got the fences replaced most of the clematis was hacked away. I then pulled metres and metres of it out of the holly. And then the holly was cut back.

But it's still a mess. I know what I want:

- a standard holly, in a lollipop shape, and short ebouh that I can trim it to keep it in shape, but which can still provide dense shelter for the birds

- a clematis that can grow along the fence, and if possible up through the holly but which can be pulled back off each year so that it doesn't swamp it.

I figure I need to pull out the rest of the dead clematis but I'm not sure when best to do that as far as the birds' welfare is concerned. I think they roost and possibly nest in there too. It feels too cold to remove their cover now, but I don't want to disturb nests later in the year.

Is it possible to let the clematis grow up, through and over the holly but to cut those bits back each year without forgoing the flowers? If so, when would I do that?

Can anyone help me work out what to do when? 

Oh, and a picture. Awful isn't it? Taken as it was getting dark, sorry.




'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
- Cicero


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,016

    LG - I think you'd have to cut back the clematis in summer at some point, but I doubt if the flowering would be very good the following year. My feeling would be that it would generally look like a half dead plant a lot of the time. image

    Could you just train the clematis onto the fence using wires or mesh,  instead of allowing it into the holly? Then you can tidy the clematis and the holly when it's suitable, perhaps letting the head of the holly get a bit bigger to keep the 'screen' you want.

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,255

    I would be happy not to let it into the holly - I had a feeling that might be the verdict. But it's utterly rampant, I'm not convinced I can actually stop it! It seems to grow SO fast. 

    There are birds in there the whole time, I can hear them, and see them going in and out of it constantly. Whether they actually nest I don't know,  but they do seem to take food in quite a lot. 

    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,255

    OK, thanks for your advice, will do. I don't mind missing out on the flowers for a while if I can get it into a manageable state and know what to do with it from now on. 


    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    LG why not replace the montane with another less vigorous clematis. I haven't come across a Montana where tying in or down it's shoots has ever restricted its growth. And when you prune them hard they form new shoots in all directions and are a bain in a smaller space to manage properly. You seem to prefer the holly and they're easy to manage. 

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,255

    I think I'll try to rein it in and if it doesn't work or I can't keep up I'll lose it. I do actually want to 'clothe' the fences as much as I can, especially there, but this montana is a bit of a monster! It was clearly planted (before my time) with the express intention of it climbing up the holly - it has been deliberately wound round the trunk. The base stems are about 2" in diameter. I do like the leaf/stem colour and flowers, but just wish it didn't look so hideous when it dries up.

    If you all think it's an okay time to pull all that mess out of the holly, I'll get going on that soon.

    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
Sign In or Register to comment.