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Trellis Plants

Gardens are always more interesting when developed as a series of different outdoor rooms. To do this though, you need barriers such as hedges, walls or fences that enclose each section and separate it from the next.  

Trellis is a very different way of creating these barrier or divisions in a garden. Trellis allows you to create a wall that makes one area appear separate to the next. This allows some air flow between each section, and depending on the type of trellis used, can allow glimpses into adjacent areas, enough to tease, but not enough to fully appreciate what is in the next garden room, drawing the visitor to explore further into the garden.

A trellis is an architectural structure, usually made from an open framework or lattice of interwoven or intersecting pieces of wood. The chosen material will then set the style for the garden. A bamboo screen would be suitable for an oriental theme whereas metal lattice might be better suited to a cottage garden. A trellis painted in ochre and planted with climbing Geraniums will enhance the Tuscany garden.

They can be used to screen unsightly walls, adjacent buildings or to create privacy. Trellis come in many forms from freestanding timber, which are supported on posts, timber lattice attached to a fence to provide extra height or decorative metal structures or wires attached to a wall.  When plants are grown to cover or compliment these structures, colours and textures help to create a feature of what was once an eye saw. An ugly brick garage wall can be transformed into an art piece simple by straining decking wire in a diagonal, triangular pattern and planting a climber such as Star Jasmine, onto every second strand.

Trellis can be attached to the fence down that narrow path between the house and the tall fence, where nothing seems to grow. Plant some climbers and you will look out the window at a vertical wall of colour, while still having room to walk down the narrow pathway. Be sure to choose a climber that will grow in a shady area, such as the climbing Hydrangea or Camellia.

If you want to plant fruit trees, but there is not enough room in your tiny court yard, you can grow them on trellis attached to the fence on the sunny side of the garden and trained as Espaliers. That is, a tree or shrub that is trained to grow in a flat plane against a wall or trellis, often in a symmetrical pattern.  A lemon tree will not only supply you with lemons, have deep green glossy foliage but also has beautiful fragrant flowers followed by fruit, bringing colour to your garden all year round.  A trellis can support several forms of vegetables, such as climbing beans and peas and supplying an abundance of edible produce, at the same time leaving precious space to plant more vegetables.
When choosing which plants to grow there are several things to consider.  Annuals can be grown for a quick effect, however, after they die you will still have the trellis providing a barrier. A deciduous climber such as Wisteria, Ornamental Grape or a Banksia Rose  will allow more light into the garden during the colder winter months, however, other perennial plants may better suit if you want the foliage to remain all year round. You must consider whether your structure is strong enough to support the plant. Wisteria can be very vigorous and too heavy for a light structure, in which case a Clematis may be more suitable.


Wisteria sinensis
Wisteria is vigorous deciduous climber which requires a sturdy support system   

  • adaptable to most soils and positions
  • grows to a height of 7-10mts
  • has fragrant pea shaped flowers from white through to deep purple.
  • flowers occur in profuse, pendant clusters in spring

Star Jasmine
Trachelospermum jasminoides
Star Jasmine is an evergreen vine

  • adaptable to most soils
  • prefers an open sunny position, however, will tolerate some shade.
  • has white star shaped fragrant flowers occurring in terminal clusters.
  • some people can be allergic to the scent, others love it.


Climbing Hydrangea
Hydrangea petiolaris
Climbing hydrangea is a sturdy, woody climbing plant

  • prefers rich, moist but well drained soils
  • requires a protected, semi-shaded position
  • drought and frost tender
  • flowers are pink or white and occur in large clusters


Camellia sasanqua
Camellias are an evergreen plant which can be trained on trellis (espalier) to produce a vertical wall of glossy green leaves.

  • prefer humus rich, acid soils
  • protection from harsh wind
  • sunny to semi shaded positions
  • drought and frost tender
  • an abundance of pink or white  flowers appearing late winter to spring in the cooler climates.

Climbing or Ivy Geraniums
Pelargonium peltatum
An evergreen vine with long, slender stems that can be tied into a frame or trellis to give the appearance of 'climbing'

  • prefer light to medium, well drained soil
  • open, sunny position
  • drought and frost resistant
  • flower from spring to autumn, in clusters of white, pink, red and magenta blooms.

Ornamental Grape  
Vitis coignetiae
A deciduous vine with glossy green leaves  which turn to a vivid crimson in Autumn

  • prefers a well composted, well drained soil
  • open, sunny position
  • large, rounded leaves
  • flowers are insignificant producing small black berries.

Banksia Rose
Rosa banksiae
Most climbing roses have long, arching canes. They have large flowers that produce a massed show in spring and continue to bloom throughout the warmer months.

  • deciduous plant with arching, thorn-less branches.
  • adaptable to most soils but prefers loam
  • open, sunny position
  • flowers are small, yellow or white, occurring in profuse, heavy clusters in Spring.

Clematis × jackmanii
A deciduous vine, hybrid Clematis such as C x jackmannii, have been popular amongst gardeners for their large, colourful flowers.

  • prefers light to medium, well drained soils
  • sunny position, however, cool roots
  • protection from late afternoon sun during summer
  • needs support on a frame or trellis

Would you like to learn more about fencing, trellising, gardening and plants, then we have a wide range of horticultural courses that may interest you.

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Also available - Climbing Plants eBook.


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[01/07/2022 20:05:24]

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