Did I mention we’re building a two storey extension on the side of our house (see Nature not Nuture)? It means we now have a big, beautiful blank canvass of a wall which I would like to adorn with some appropriate plantage.
Something along the lines of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or failing that even a relatively simple vertical garden would be rather nice …but I quickly decided it was a bit ambitious and possibly ill advised on the side of a house with all the damp issues it might cause. Ivy? I have two Sulphur Hearts languishing in their pots that I bought a year ago but still haven’t used for fear of their rapid growth and knack of racing up to the guttering and wreaking havoc… Climbing roses? Hmmmm – much as I adore roses – especially when they’re heavily scented – I don’t seem to be very successful with them. I am nervous of pruning AND to be honest balk from anything that might, just MIGHT become even the slightest bit high maintenance.
Pause for breath and further contemplation.
Then, one day after work the other week when I called in to see my mother and we were sitting in her back garden enjoying a cup of tea in the sunshine I couldn’t ignore her climbing hydrangea in full bloom heavy with flowers and humming with bees. It was a picture! THAT WAS IT! The perfect solution and it had been on my doorstep (or at least my mum’s doorstep) all along.
Of course, I could go online and purchase some plants but that would be too easy and potentially quite expensive. So relishing a challenge, I took around ten soft wood cuttings then as soon as I got home got busy with a paring knife, a chopping board, a pot, a plastic bag, a rubber band and some rooting powder…
I need at least two of the cuttings to take (I think a 20% success rate should be achievable) and am watching them carefully for signs of growth. As One of my favourite gardening experts and regular gardening guru Alan Gray says, this kind of propagation tends to be a race between rooting and rotting. Wise words as always, Mr Gray. My success with some Daphne Odora softwood cuttings last year has definitely boosted my confidence though.
To quote the ever handy BBC Plant Finder: Climbing hydrangea is a useful low-maintenance climber for a shady or north wall, also thriving in sunnier sites in moist soils (the flowers do not last quite as well in a sunny spot). Plants are slow to get going, and often make little new growth in the first few years. However, it is well worth the wait. In midsummer the white lacecap-style hydrangea flowers are huge, up to 10in (25cm) across, and can almost cover the stems completely. The craggy stems cling to the walls by adventitious roots. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
I’ll keep you posted with my progress – keep your (green) fingers crossed!