Climbers look wonderful growing up walls or trellis but have you thought of growing them through shrubs? It can make a stunning sight, especially through shrubs and trees that have finished flowering. Examples of these are forsythia, some varieties of viburnum, crab apple and cherry to name a few.
The answer is to grow clematis, sweet peas or potato vine (only through large trees as can be very vigorous), resulting in an unusual display.
Annuals like sweet peas, black-eyed susan, morning glory and canary vine can be trained through shrubs and have a dramatic effect. They will die back at the end of the season and not be detrimental to the host plant.
A similar idea is to choose a climber that is flowering at the same time as the host. This creates an attractive plant association in one place using two plants. Examples are a spring clematis through a blue ceanothus, a summer clematis through an English rose and a perennial flowering sweet pea with a climbing rose.
I have a very large buddleia allternifolia which flowers in June. The flowers are clusters of fragrant blue flowers on long arching stems forming a beautiful weeping bush, but only for a few weeks. So I have grown different clematis flowering from June onwards through this, with good results. These clematis are cut down at the end of the season.
Here are some tips if you decide to try this:
1. Match the vigour of the climber with the size of the host.
2. Make good sized, well prepared planting holes beside the host plant.
3.The roots of the newly planted climber often struggle to compete with roots of the shrub or tree so be generous. Water and feed well regularly.
4. Plant the climber on the shady side of the host plant so that the climber grows through and over it towards the sun.
The combinations are endless. Experiment and enjoy!