Growing Hardy Climbers
Like shrubs, climbers give essential form and structure to a garden. They are also important for providing shelter and nesting sites for birds. You can use climbers to cover vertical structures, thus dramatically increasing the growing area - an important consideration in small gardens.
Give some thought to implications of growing climbers, as many can make very large plants. Will you be able to cope with them when they get to 30ft or more? Will they cause shade or other nuisance to neighbours? Will they cause problems with e.g. gutters or other structures. Ivy, for instance, is a great self-clinging climber, and is fine on a sound wall, but can cause problems on wall with loose mortar, and can eventually grow behind gutters, so needs to be regularly cut back.
The means by which plants climb should also be give some thought. Plants have evolved to twine (Honeysuckle, Wisteria), scramble (Plumbago), hang on using thorns (Roses), self-cling (Ivy), twine by leaf stalks (Clematis) and use tendrils (Passion Flower). In the case of woody twiners, once growth has twined around the support and grown to a couple of centimetres thick it will be quite a challenge to remove!
Avoid planting too close to the support. In the case of a wall, the soil close to the foundation can be very dry and may have a high ph due to mortar. The plant will also benefit from being away from the wall by having a greater area of soil to exploit, and will appreciate the moister conditions away from the rain shadow caused by the wall. Consideration should also be given to the maintenance requirements of the support, and where this is a factor, then plants should be positioned at a distance which will allow easy access. Canes can be positioned to train growth towards the support on the wall. This can be a sturdy trellis, or a network of vine eyes and wires arranged to cater for the anticipated height of the plant.
Trellises should be of sturdy construction to support the weight of the plants and, more importantly, the wind resistance they produce which can be considerable, particularly on exposed sites. The good news here is that a properly constructed and planted trellis will provide an excellent wind break.