Every week I email a gardening question to the panel of experts at BBC Radio Norfolk’s The Garden Party and then eagerly listen to the programme the following day, scribbling down the gems of information they kindly offer. Sometimes Laila sends a question or two as well. This is a transcript of the advice that The Garden Party experts gave me on this week’s gardening challenge!
Dear garden experts,
We’d like some advice please on what climbing plant or plants we could grow on a trellis (yet to be built) to hide our neighbour’s garage and make our drive more attractive. Something fairly fast growing would be ideal if possible….
It faces west and although the side of our house is opposite, it gets a good deal of light and sunshine in the middle of the day.
To my knowledge, nothing has ever been grown there before so I expect the soil is currently compacted and pretty poor.
(BBC Radio Norfolk’s The garden party is presented by Thordis Fridriksson aka Thunderfairy and Alan Gray from East Ruston Old Vicarage with guests Martin Davy head of all things horticultural at Easton and Otley College and Joe Whitehead from Gardenwise).
Alan: Well, I think first of all you should put up a decent trellis rather than go and buy something at the garden centre – make sure you use pressure treated timber, tanalised against rotting. One plant that I love that will do exactly what Bridget’s asking is Hedera colchica ‘Sulphur Heart’ (Persian ivy) – it’s quite fast growing, has big leaves which are a lovely vibrant green and then brilliant acid yellow in the centre – they are absolutely stunning.
I think you probably want something evergreen and something to hide the garage all year round …and the other thing is because it flowers later in the year, it’s a very good wildlife plant– you’ll always notice butterflies and other pollinators on it and it’s also good for nesting birds …so that’s what I would go for.
Martin: I’d say make the trellis out of roofing batons – you can buy them from DIY stores – not that expensive – then you can knock up trellis to any size you like – and I would go for Clematis armandii which is evergreen – you cannot kill it – and they’re budding up now to flower. They have white flowers or there’s a vatiety with pink flowers called Apple Blossom, both have quite big leaves and again birds like to nest in them…
Alan: …and both these suggestions can be pruned – the clematis can be pruned immediately after it’s flowered which will probably be at the end of May so that it’s got time to make new growth for the following year and the ivy can be pruned in about February before birds start to nest in it.
Thunderfairy: Would there be any merit to something like a honeysuckle?
Alan: There are evergreen honeysuckles but they’re not as dense and I don’t think they’d be good for this particular spot.
Hmmm – food for thought. Now all I’ve got to do is make my choice! At the moment I’m thinking ivy…