Cover Up for Winter

Cold, dark winter days can be depressing, but with a few well-chosen climbers to dress up your screens, boundaries, and bare-stemmed trees, this can be an exciting and beautiful season.

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Often overlooked or dismissed as too common, ivy comes into its own in winter, with beautiful leaf shapes and bright colors. Grow it over an arch for a spectacular foliage effect.

When to Start: Autumn
At Its Best: All year, especially winter
Time to Complete: 1 day to make arch; 1 day to plant

Materials Needed:

  • garden arch (kits are available)
  • well-rotted organic matter, such as manure
  • garden twine
  • clippers
  • ivy plants, good choices include: Hedera helix ‘Cavendishii’, ‘Glacier’, ‘Oro di Bogliasco’, and Hedera colchica
  • winter greens

Erect an Arch

When bold foliage is at a premium, ivy has plenty to offer, with plain or variegated, and large or small leaves. Select a tall cultivar of Hedera helix or the large-leaved Hedera colchica for an arch. Either buy a preassembled arch, or make one from a kit and erect it close to a screen, over a bench seat, or to frame a view.

Plant the Ivy

Select an ivy with long stems, and check the label to make sure that it will grow large enough to cover the arch. Enrich the soil around the arch with organic matter, and plant an ivy about 12 in (30 cm) away from each side. You can also plant a few 12 in (30 cm) from the fence or wall. Plant the ivies at the same depth they were in their original pots.


Use garden twine to tie the stems to the arch; they can be removed once the stems have taken hold. Water the plants frequently and trim any wayward stems in spring and summer.

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Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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