How to Choose Seasonal Climbing Plants

Learn more about the bountiful climbing plants that will work best for your arch or pergola depending on the climate and temperature.

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White Climbing Clematis MontanaEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Keeping interest in a garden all year round can be a difficult job, especially in small gardens, where the view is of the whole. Larger gardens may have the luxury of different "rooms" for different times of the year. For both, the range of climbing plants available can, through flower, foliage, and fruits, ensure that appeal is maintained through all the seasons. Failing that, a well-designed arch or pergola can be a feature itself during the winter months.

Spring Climbers

Many clematis are among the earliest flowering climbers to enliven pergolas and archways. Clematis alpine 'Frances Rivis' has pale blue flowers followed by fluffy seedheads. It tolerates exposed conditions and lower light levels than other varieties. A more vigorous clematis for this time of year is C. Montana ('Elizabeth'), whose soft pink, scented flowers appear in late spring.

Summer Interest

This is the time of year that offers a wide choice and is the season when most people want to be outside enjoying their gardens.

Bougainvillea Makes Dramatic Statement in GardenEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Fragrant climbers flourish in summer, especially when planted around seating areas. A good example is the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which has small, fragrant white flowers, followed by seedpods. It is an evergreen climber and, in a sheltered site, provides good screening. Actinidia kolomikta is a deciduous, twining climber. Its green leaves are tipped with pink and white, as though they have been dipped into paint.

Many of the honeysuckles (Lonicera) are useful summer climbers: they are vigorous, rapidly covering any overhead structure. Most are scented and evergreen, too. L. japonica var. repens, for example, has all these attributes and an interesting purple flush in the leaves and flowers. Roses, in many forms, can always be relied upon for summer flowers and fragrance.

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Arches & Pergolas © 2000 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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