The best garden furniture in the world won’t look anything special unless you’ve thought carefully about its setting. Patios can look very sterile and uninviting despite luxurious deep filled cushions and state-of-the-art cast aluminium patio furniture. Climbing plants are a tremendous asset for the patio dweller – by their nature; they don’t take up much floor space, so make ideal companions to a dedicated dining area where you’d rather have an extra metal garden chair or two than a blowsy shrub. There is a climber for every situation and you can radically transform your patio with fast growing, free flowering climbers that are happy in containers.
I’ve heard it said that there is a clematis variety to bloom in every month of the year so these plants are certainly worth adding into the mix. The British Clematis Society collection at Sunbury Walled Garden boasts over 200 varieties promising something in bloom on every day of the year.
Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) with its evergreen glossy leaves and white flowers from June to August is the glamorous choice. It grows well in a sun trap, and can cope with partial shade but it will need protection from cold, drying winds. It’s a woody, twining climber so it will need to be grown against a strong trellis or system of wires. The scent is wonderful.
Honeysuckles (lonicera) might be a good option if you have to fill a north-facing wall. A particular favourite is the later-flowering ‘Serotina’ which provides fragrance and flowers from July to October. Pair it with one of the earlier lonicera such as ‘Belgica’ which will be at its prime from May-June and you will have a scented backdrop for your outdoor dining all summer.
Vines and wisterias spring to mind. The classy white Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba’ (white Japanese wisteria) is not as vigorous as some so a good one to grow up the sunny side of the house, or over a pergola. It’s fairly fast growing, so cut back twice a year for optimum flower production, and water well.
If you want a plant that will provide a bit of living camouflage, look at the clematis Montana to quickly fill a space, be it next door’s garage wall or an unforgiving wooden fence. You’ll have a riot of flowers and scent in spring. The best for perfume is the pink-flowered ‘Mayleen’ but if this is too vigorous for the patio, think of the cherry-pink ‘Freda’ which is suitable for smaller spaces.
A good choice for a scented climber in a pot is the clematis ‘Pixie’ which produces heaps of small, lemony-elderflower-scented pale green flowers in April and May. Put it in a generous container and keep well-watered in the summer and it will tumble around happily.
Thompson and Morgan have a very useful grid to help you decide what will be the best option for you. So, plonk yourself down on at your patio table with a notebook and begin that shopping list.