In the Garden > Climbers
Don looked at two climbers that will give sunshine in winter and shade in summer, as well as fabulous autumn colour.
Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
A vigorous, self-clinging deciduous climber, which adheres firmly to slightly rough surfaces by means of disc-shaped suckers at the ends of branched tendrils. The glossy green leaves are toothed and lobed, and colour to scarlet, yellow and purple in autumn. It has insignificant greenish yellow flowers, followed by bunches of blue black berries resembling tiny grapes. This frost hardy plant will tolerate temperatures down to -15°C, and produces wonderful autumn colour even in climates with mild winters.
Boston ivy is ideal as a quick cover for large walls and fences and its autumn foliage is spectacular. However this plant is very vigorous and must be kept under control. It is especially important not to let it climb up under the eaves of houses. When the stems of the plant are pulled off a wall or fence, the sucker discs remain. They permanently mark the surface and look very ugly. Boston ivy needs a strong vertical support. Plant in full sun for best autumn foliage colour. Pruning is not necessary except to control size.
Ornamental grape (Vitis vinifera)
A quick growing, deciduous climber. The new growth is green and slightly downy, maturing to deep green in summer and then beautiful autumn colours ranging from orange and red through to purple. Ornamental grape grows in most areas of Australia except the tropical north and subtropical coastal northern NSW and Queensland. In humid coastal climates it is susceptible to fungal leaf diseases.
Ornamental grape is a good climber for a pergola or arch, providing shade in summer and sun in winter. It likes full sun, well-drained soil and needs occasional pruning in winter to remove twiggy growth.
Climbers are available from nurseries throughout Australia. Before purchasing, talk to your local nursery about climbers that are best suited to your climate and situation.
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