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The Random House Book of Climbers

The Random House Book of Climbers

by Roger Phillips, Martyn E. Rix
The gardener's guide to climberscamellias, wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle, vines, and rosesoffers entertaining histories of the various species and practical advice on how to plant and nurture these fascinating plants. Original.


The gardener's guide to climberscamellias, wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle, vines, and rosesoffers entertaining histories of the various species and practical advice on how to plant and nurture these fascinating plants. Original.

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Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Random House Book of... Series
Product dimensions:
5.85(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.29(d)

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Read an Excerpt


When planting or replanting a garden there are a great many things to be considered. Firstly, there is the structure of the planting from the trees down to the shrubs. Then there is the introduction of ground-cover, perennials and bulbs to add to the detail and flower colour. Last but by no means least, there is something that should never be forgotten, which is the planting of climbers.

Climbers are immensely useful plants in unifying a garden's layout which they achieve by scrambling across fences and shrubs, forming arches or covering fences and pergolas. Because they reach up towards the light, climbers like clematis are useful for planting in dark corners, while climbing roses add colour to trees, and honeysuckles and jasmines are wonderful for adding scent. In small town gardens, climbers are especially useful as they add an extra dimension to a small area by clothing the walls and fences with foliage and flowers and prolonging the season of interest of shrubs and trees. Plants with scented or aromatic leaves should be positioned near the paths or placed to grow over arbours, so that when you walk round the garden you will get the full impact of their aroma.

How to use this book

The two main groups of plants included in this book are those that can climb and support themselves by twining or scrambling up through trellises, shrubs and trees, and those that do well against walls or fences. Of the second group many, like cotoneasters, will need to be fixed to wires or a trellis, and others like sweet peas will need to be helped and guided to start climbing. For example, twigs pruned from deciduous trees and shrubs providean effective early support at the same time as giving a natural look.

We have arranged the plants roughly in order of flowering, starting with spring and working through the seasons, based on the plants'normal flowering time in the cooler parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Within this framework, we have, where possible, grouped the plants more or less in families, selecting a few of the best from each group. The majority of plants are hardy but we have included a few tender plants as well which require greenhouse or other protection in northern Europe and eastern North America. They can, of course, be grown outside in warmer climates, such as Florida, California, the Mediterranean and Australia.

An approximate guide to hardiness is given for each plant in three ways; Fahrenheit, centigrade and the American Department of Agriculture hardiness zones. The natural world is flexible, so if you are prepared to try plants at the limits of their hardiness, you may be lucky (and pleasantly surprised). Always bear in mind that the drier the roots of a plant in winter, the hardier it is likely to be.

Choosing plants

Through the pages of this book, we aim to provide inspiration for when you come to choose your climbing plants. However, the first thing to establish is which plants will do well in your garden. Try looking at some of the best gardens in your immediate area and see which climbers are looking healthy and flowering well. Have no fear of copying someone else; all the best gardeners do it. If you see a large-flowered white clematis thriving, remember you can buy largeflowered clematis in a range of colours with especially good blues and purples, or you may feel that you would like a small-flowered yellow one. Use your neighbours' gardens as a jumping-off point and try and build on the plants that do well in your soil and weather conditions.

Growing & siting plants

As with all plants, success in growing climbing plants comes from providing conditions as near as possible to their natural habitat. Soil at the foot of walls tends to be dry, so new plants are likely to need extra water during their first summer, until they become established. Make sure that the roots are well soaked and water deeply and seldom, so that the roots go deep and do not stay on the surface. The only thing that should be borne in mind specifically when growing climbers is that they should have sufficient room to grow to maturity.

Where to obtain plants

Start by visiting your local nursery. There are numerous small nurseries which are a very good source of plants and they will know which plants thrive in your area. Where possible, choose young, actively growing plants, not those that have been sitting in their pots for months. Try to buy plants sold from the open ground or those grown in soil, as they will do better in an open garden than those grown in peat-based compost. Plants are grown in peat compost for the convenience of the grower, not the customer. If you have time, visit gardens open to the Public ' making notes of plants you like.You can then buy them locally or purchase them by mail order. Sources of the rarer plants can be found by looking in the following:

The RHS Plant Finder, devised by Chris Philip is published annually. It gives details of nurseries and the whole range of plants stocked in Britain. It is invaluable when searching for specific plants, but you will need to look under the Latin name (given in brackets next to the common name in this book). Obtainable in book shops. The Andersen Horticultural Library's Source List ofPlants & Seeds is the American equivalent of The Plant Finder. Obtainable from A. H. L., Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Drive, P.O. Box 39, Chanhassen, MN 55317-0039, USA. PPP Index is the European Plant Finder, published both as a book and as a CD-ROM in German, French and English by Eugen Ulmer GmbH,Wollgrasweg 41, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany.

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