Growing a climber up a tall(ish) tree

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by AdrianBg, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. AdrianBg

    AdrianBg Gardener

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    I have a birch tree in my garden which is in its senescent phase; the tree surgeons who came in autumn reckoned it probably has less than 5 years of life left in it. It's growing in the middle of a patch of lawn and not really shading anything other than the house, so rather than cut it down I would like to use it as a frame to grow something nice up. I haven't decided yet between a rambling rose, a clematis or a climbing hydrangea.

    The tree is I guess about 30 feet tall; or at least a bit taller than my two-storey house. The lowest branches start about 10 feet off the ground. It's in a spot that will get sunshine pretty much all day long in its canopy and for most of the day at its base.

    But I have two questions:
    - I guess the matter of rose vs clematis vs hydrangea is a question of personal taste, but is there any good reason to eliminate any of those options (e.g. are any of them unlikely to make it that high up?). Anyone tried this and not got the results they were hoping for?
    - In all three cases, would I need to train it up some kind of trellis for the first 10 feet before it reaches branches, or will it be able to climb up the trunk of its own devices?

    Thanks in advance for any advice or thoughts!
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
  2. AdrianBg

    AdrianBg Gardener

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    Edited.. it's a birch tree. I don't know why I said beech tree!
     
  3. NigelJ

    NigelJ Total Gardener

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    Clematis would be the fastest grower, need a vigorous one. Could grow up some netting around the trunk.
    Rose I would say rambling rather than climbing rose and it will need some support on the way up. Rambling and climbing roses are not as self supporting as a clematis.
    Climbing hydrangea can be slow to get going and self supporting.
     
  4. AdrianBg

    AdrianBg Gardener

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    Thanks Nigel. When you say rambling roses are less self-supporting, would you envisage that they would always need some kind of supporting structure in addition to the tree itself? Or do you think it would eventually stand alone once the stem thickens up?
     
  5. NigelJ

    NigelJ Total Gardener

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    @AdrianBg There was a 30ft field maple at the bottom of my garden and I decided to grow a rambling rose up it, planted "Treasure Trove" at the bottom of the chainlink fence in front of the tree end of the next year it was well up the tree and took about a further 2 years to be about halfway up the tree, you could only really see it when it flowered (June time) it was pretty much at the top about 6 years after planting. Then the owners of the land cut the tree down, before it fell into my neighbours garden. The rose is still there covering the fence and growing out into the scrub beyond. One snag is that it only flowers for a short period, rambling roses tend not to be repeat flowering.
    I never had any problems with it blowing out of the tree, the large thorns tended to snag branches and hang on.
    The clematis and the climbing hydrangea grip the tree, whereas the rose hangs on by its thorn tips.
    Clematis have an advantage in that if you select several you can have a variety of colours and flowering times.
     
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    • AdrianBg

      AdrianBg Gardener

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      Thanks a lot Nigel, great food for thought. I'll have a think about clematis, sounds like more than 1 might be the way to go.
       
    • noisette47

      noisette47 Total Gardener

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      Hi AdrianBg,
      An ideal situation for Clematis montana! Tetrarose has pretty, dark leaves and scented, pink flowers. Or Tangutica is a vigorous, late-summer/autumn, yellow. You'll need to prepare a generous planting hole(s) as birch has greedy, surface roots.
       
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      • AdrianBg

        AdrianBg Gardener

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        Thanks Noisette. Early flowering and late flowering.. maybe I'll go for both?
         
      • noisette47

        noisette47 Total Gardener

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        Go on, be a devil :biggrin: But make them promise never to flower at the same time....it's not a colour combination made in heaven!!:eeew: :roflol:
         
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        • AdrianBg

          AdrianBg Gardener

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          Ha! My wife would have a seizure! Especially as it would be visible from the road!
           
        • noisette47

          noisette47 Total Gardener

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          A lady of impeccable taste, obviously
           
        • ARMANDII

          ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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          @AdrianBg

          I use an evergreen Clematis Armandii to climb up to the top of my Acer "Brilliantissimum"
          upload_2021-3-2_20-50-37.png

          upload_2021-3-2_20-51-32.png

          and a Climbing Rose Bathsheba that is climbing through my Lilac "Madame Lemoine".
          Both were planted within 12 inches of the trunk of the Acer and the Lilac and basically all that is needed is to tie the stems of whatever you choose to the first few lower branches of the tree or against the trunk using a cane in the ground against the trunk. Don't forget to water them for the first few weeks and when they show signs of growth give them a liquid feed.
           
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          • Black Dog

            Black Dog Gardener of useful things

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            Ok I have a few other ideas if you are willing to listen:

            1. Beans. They climb like hell and if you give them a few wires or pieces of string nailed to the bark or fixed with a ring (like a dog collar) they will not only make it green bit produce loooooots of tasty beans. Und if you use the right kind of beans they bloom really nice.

            2. A Kiwi-Plant. Well to be fair, you would need at least two (male and female), or even better 5 (1 male, 4 female) to get anything edible. Although there are self-pollinating ones out there (like "Issai"). It grows fast (2 meters in the first year in my garden) and who else has Kiwis in their garden?

            3. If the tree gets so much sun, it might be nice to plant a grapevine. Give it support and I will give you grapes for years and years.

            4. Cucumbers, pumpkins, Zucchini... If you let them, they will climb as well.

            5. Thunbergia alata / Tropaeolum / Nasturtium - give them three weeks during summertime and you won't see the tree anymore. They grow only one year, but hell they are beautiful.

            5. Lastly one of my secret tips: Ipomoea alba (aka Moonflower). A really special plant, willing to climb HIGH (I've read up to 10 meters). With giant white flowers that bloom only from dusk till dawn and a scent that will draw every neighbor to your garden, they really are something to behold.

            Greetings
             
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            • AdrianBg

              AdrianBg Gardener

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              Thanks Black Dog. Fruit & veg climbers are appealing but I think most of the tree would be out of reach even with a stepladder. I do like your ideas of annual climbers though, I might give these a go for a year or two and see how they go.
               
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              • Black Dog

                Black Dog Gardener of useful things

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                If the tree dies one day, you don't have to completely remove it. Just cut of the the crown and let the stump stay at 2 meters or so (6 feet). That way you can still grow stuff on it, build a small treehouse for the (grand)children or drill holes in it for birds and bees to find a home during winter.
                 
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