What should I grow against my south-facing wall?

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by 2nd_bassoon, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. 2nd_bassoon

    2nd_bassoon Super Gardener

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    In the new house I have gained that most prized growing space; a very sunny southfacing wall. It's the lower part of the conservatory (our house is built on a hill, so the back garden is much lower than the road/ground floor), so it's not the highest or widest space, but it gets full sun for almost the entire day, and on hot summer days the whole patio was a complete suntrap - almost unbearably so at times.

    The bed at the foot of the wall is about 18inches/45cms wide, and there's about 2 foot of good soil's deptch before it hits a more compacted semi-hardcore mix. The people we bought the house from had a cotoneaster growing in it, which was far to vigerous both up and out; it was growing in through the conservatory windows, and overwhelming the steps down from the decking. With some difficulty I've removed it all, and am now thinking about what to replace it with.

    Things I'm considering so far:
    - Sweet peas
    - Clematis
    - Climbing rose
    - Wisteria
    - Grape vine (if there is an edible grape that has a fair chance of fruiting in the UK? I'm in Bristol, so relatively warm south west with additional patio microclimate)
    - A couple of fan-trained/angle cordoned fruit trees

    The steps in the photo are the only access from the house to the garden, and we're using them daily. So on the one hand they need to be easily passable (not fighting through enthusiastic vegetation!), and on the other hand whatever is there will be seen/hopefully appreciated day in day out, year round.

    I'm assuming I'll end up going for some combination of two (or more?!) of the above, especially with the sweet peas (which is what I keep coming back to), but I'm really struggling to make any sort of decision at the moment. Ideas and suggestions very welcome!

    You can just make it out, pre-cotoneaster removal, at the back of this photo:

    2020-06-21 17.44.03.jpg

    And this is a less sunny but more clear close-up from earlier today:

    2020-10-17 12.31.12.jpg
     
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    • ARMANDII

      ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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      I like the choice you've already thought of, 2B, as they're excellent and you've obviously put some thoght into it.:love30::thumbsup:
       
    • 2nd_bassoon

      2nd_bassoon Super Gardener

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      That's my problem, @ARMANDII , I like all my ideas and I don't want to choose one or two and lose the rest! I'm hoping one of you clever folk will help me by saying "well obviously you can't put that there" and make the decision easier! :biggrin:
       
    • ARMANDII

      ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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      Well, that leaves me out as I'm a real,

      [​IMG]

      But I have put a Wisteria on my South facing garage wall. A grapevine would be nice but I think it would be race between you and the Birds as to who managed to eat them first. But a nice repeat flowering climbing rose would give you some romance, colour and scent.
       
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      • Victoria

        Victoria Lover of Exotic Flora

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        I would say the climbing rose, as the space is small and you wouldn't want something going over the windows but something that would give s lovely scent when the windows are open.
         
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        • Selleri

          Selleri Super Gardener

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          Well, 2B, obviously you must grow a scented rose there.

          Did that help? :heehee:
           
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          • 2nd_bassoon

            2nd_bassoon Super Gardener

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            Very much so, rose is definitely the consensus! I think I'll likely end up doing a rose along the wall and clematis around the bannister for the steps; I've got a Princesss Diana that came with me from the old flat that desperately needs a permenant home.

            Now just have to decide on a rose - currently weighing up Starlight Symphony vs Tess of d'Urbervilles. Or maybe one of each coming in from each side...
             
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            • noisette47

              noisette47 Total Gardener

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              Hi 2B, if you can fix some strong wires across the wall, the rose stems could be tied in fairly horizontally, which will make them flower all along their length. What about a Trachelospermum (Rhyncospermum?) jasminoides? That will give you scented jasmine flowers and evergreen leaves that turn red through the winter, without being too vigorous for the space.
               
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              • Howard Stone

                Howard Stone Gardener

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                NO!!!!!! Annuals so you have to replant every year and you probably need to do it in Autumn in a cold frame to get reliably good results; they look crap in the late summer, they disappear in winter and there's not much to see in spring.


                PROBABLY NO!!!!!! If you go this route choose very carefully. They can look like a huge birds nest of dead twigs in the winter and spring and they can flower high with just bear ugly branches at eye level if you don't prune them correctly. They may not appreciate the dry and hot conditions of your wall. They are utterly boring when they're not in flower, i.e. for 50 weeks of the year. But see below on roses.



                zzzzZZZZZZzzzzz

                But if you do insist on going this route consider planting one with a clematis. The clematis grows through the rose and when it's finished flowering you cut it down to the ground. Then the rose flowers. You'll have to choose the right type of clematis.

                But see above about my reservations about clematis in a hot dry position.


                The best ones take seven years to start flowering. You can get ones which have been cultivated to start flowering straight away though -- it's just that they have shorter racemes. When they get going they go like the clappers so you will have to prune it once, maybe twice a year.

                One idea is to grow a couple of wisterias, one on each hand rail of those steps in your garden. The stem will spiral round and look really nice, the racemes will droop down the banisters. It could look fabulous after a few years.


                YES!!!!!!! Good idea. I grow Vitis purpurea in a similar position and though the grapes aren't edible they are beautiful and the foliage goes an amazing shade of red.


                YES!!!!!!! YES!!!!! You get four seasons of interest -- buds and flowers in the spring, fruit in the summer and autumn and the structure when they've matured in the winter. And you get nice things to eat. I would go for something simple like an apple. A specialist nursery will give you loads of advice about varieties.
                 
                Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
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