Combine Vines for Vertical Gardens and Wall Cover

catImage:  Marion Brenner

“A clematis planted at the base of a rose, about a foot away, will weave its way through the rose vines, typically blooming when the rose’s own petals have faded. (If your rose is a single bloomer, this really helps keep your vine wall or structure vivid.) It’s just a question of taking the idea of choosing plants that will bloom in sequence and applying it vertically.”

 Clematis Crispa

 Clematis Viorna

“Louis Bauer, director of horticulture at Wave Hill, a jewel box of a New York City public garden in the Bronx, recommends a related formula: Mixing two (or more) types of clematis with different bloom times. Clematis is often a good choice for nervous gardeners, said Mr. Bauer: “Choosing ones such as Clematis crispa and Clematis viorna that die back to the ground [in northern climes] takes the fear of pruning out of the equation.”

Climbing Euonymous

Climbing Euonymous

Climbing Variegated Euonymous and Rose

At Hollister House, Mr. Schoellkopf particularly likes to mix different varieties of the hardy evergreen euonymus, which he calls “God’s gift to the north.” (Note: In zones 6 and northward, euonymus vine is not the invasive problem it can be in warmer climates.) Favorite types include Euonymus fortunei ‘Variegatus,’ with its almost white leaves (“It plays a trick on the eye—from a distance it reads as a wall covered in white flowers,” he said) and the tiny leafed Euonymus fortunei ‘Kewensis.’ On the back wall of the house, Mr. Schoellkopf combined Rosa ‘Eden,’ a climbing rose that’s a repeat bloomer, with a mix of three different Euonymus for an interesting patterning of leaf and flower.

Japanese hydrangea ‘Moonlight’

 Kiwi Vine

“Height in the garden is important,” said Page Dickey, owner of a charming Connecticut garden called Duck Hill. She grows vines “religiously” on everything from low stone walls to pergolas in the vegetable gardens, and has even found a way to work truly impressive height into the mix: by training climbers to wind around the trunks of trees. “I grow Japanese hydrangea up some of my shade trees, or a rambling rose up an old apple tree,” she said, “so when the tree’s flowers fade and before the apples come, you have beautiful blooms. It’s all about pacing and mixing, knowing your plants and then letting loose a little.”


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