Using a flowering creeper planted and perhaps supported in a container as ‘a cure’ for hiding an ugly wall or to provide you with a hangover or vertical garden look you will want is smart thinking and action!
Got a blank wall you can't paint? A brick wall that has seen better days? A stone wall or ledge that seems stark and unyielding? Here is some advice and a solution or two to consider. And what is more it can be changed around, the idea is not only for stoops and patios or balconies but for any wall around the house including the front; a side wall; a swimming pool area; to create a wind break; a miniature effect for an odd space somewhere.
A living frame for the main front entrance is charming – I have just seen one and couldn’t believe what this gardener achieved with a few items, a bit of work and the right props. Containers to the rescue I think. Yay. Use the ideas too for the front of the house, an area that if inside your home, might be used to display a fancy carpet or other kind of objet d’art.
So, starting with an ugly wall what needs to be done? As with any project you have to take stock of the situation see what you have got and then decide what you need and can or will do.
How big is the space to be covered? How many containers will you need? What about light, sunshine, space for growing, height, shape of space under discussion? Get your gardening notebook out and make all the notes in the world please, jot down workable ideas, go lateral in your thinking, add bits and pieces and no matter how odd the idea may seem, write them down. What does not work for you today may just be the right idea for a tomorrow. Not only will you want to read them again, you may or will want to refer to them if you need to buy plants soils and composts etc And if you ever need to do this kind of project again, well then you have these notes and ideas that may have been rejected here but which will be useful in other places and spots. Is your wall to be painted? Clad in mosaic? Mirrored? Have you chosen the colour? The texture? Or has it chosen you and you are working along with what you have got?
Options for a creeper Star Jasmine may mean four to six rectangular planters, good rich dark soil, bonemeal and compost and mulch to finish off. Place the planters alongside the wall in their drip trays. Prepare the soil with the additives and compost and fill them. Using trellis? Plant this at the back of the planter so that your creeper can be trained up to start. Not all creepers need to be supported beyond finding a wall to grow against, so adapt and choose. For now I choose Star Jasmine, (Jasminum multiflorum); white painted planters and sturdy wooden trellis against a deep painted mustard-coloured and rough plastered brick wall. I hope you can imagine it, this is the one that I saw, so I was inspired to share the idea with you all because it looked so striking.
The dark coloured walls with the white planters, dark glossy leaves of the jasmine with its fragrant little white flowers will have you calm in a few seconds and shake of a puppy’s tail at the end of a hard day. And you can transfer this idea and colour scheme to a front entrance just as easily.
But of course, you may choose a different creeper and and then different colour schemes will suggest themselves; besides, in nature, plain white works anytime. For a front entrance you could use two Alibaba pots, painted the mustard colour with an archway of trellising around a white door (or the other way around), use white pots with dark green trellis with star jasmine around a ‘mustard’ coloured front door.
* Check on the amount of sun and shade you have to work with, size of area will influence your choice of containers which in turn will influence the types of plants you will choose which in turn will influence your soil preparation, fertilisers and foods and so on
* Watch out for noxious plants if you have children and pets.
* Plan properly to get the right and easily maintained look. Do not go higgledy-piggledy because you are in a hurry.
* Make sure you have a source of water nearby , carrying watering can after watering can may just mean you start to neglect the end patch.
* Choose the right plants for the right settings. Of course you would normally do this but sometimes people don’t. They often go for the look they want and the plants they need for this look need more than the space provided offers – like not enough light or sunshine, too cold, hot, direct heat, not enough space, roots system is wrong for the type of containers being used … the list really does go on.
* If using lighting to highlight your feature make sure that electrical points are protected against rain etc.
* Be a good housekeeper if you need to be as dusty leaves will spoil it all and may make your corner dull.
WHAT DOES JASMINE NEED?
This is an easy pant to cultivate in a way and cultivate is too big a word as it almost grows itself. It is a versatile plant as well and can be made to grow as you wish (like Plumbago) – into a hedge, a topiary, a neat shrub, a combination look and of course up against some trellising which is what I suggest below. It will like a good dark potting soil, made friable with a nice mix of compost, some bonemeal and a handful of 2;3;2 fertiliser or similar and some bark mulch. It also needs good drainage, hates wet feet so watch watering and stagnant water in trays. After watering, wait for around 30 minutes then come an empty your drip trays. It will grow in sunshine all day and or will also do well with shade in the midday or afternoon
DIRECTION OF YOUR WALL?
Direction is direction anywhere but you will know the impact it has in your particular area when it means to what is best to grow where.
Here in South Africa where I live being the southern hemisphere, North gets best daily sun exposure in general; south is best for shade and ‘cool’ plants like bulbs such as tulips; East for the rising morning sun and west for the hot afternoon setting sun. It’ll be different for you maybe (depending on your location) and besides your 'main' zone, there is the configuration of your garden, the direction of your home or trees or trellis or spot or entrance or garden scape. Think it through; know your sun patterns as this creeper is going to work hard for you and thusly you will want to choose the best for all sorts of reasons.
A CHOICE OF PLANTS? So many we are lucky!
Why not choose your favourite and here your nursery assistant will surely help besides ideas you get from looking at what others in your area have done in their gardens. The garden club is also a really good source of information too. Here are some of my other favourites …
- Clematis Montana grows really fast prefers an alkaline soil but protect the roots from direct midday sun.
- Virginia creeper aka the Tickey creeper will need a wall, grows fast, has stunning ‘Vermont’ fall/Autumn colours to offer but dies back in winter. Worth it I think for no trellis planting.
- Russian vine grows fastest, looks pretty but needs your regular pruning hand to keep it in check. Well worth it but keep the secateurs close by.
- My favourite favourite besides Jasmine is the simple Nasturtium (edible too) that comes in all sorts of beautiful colours. Seems tender, we grow it as a perennial here and it is self seeding.
- Black-eyed Susan is not lazy and oh so pretty. I like the effect of this one growing around a circular pillar type trellis as well mixed with Impatiens (pocket planted) looks really good.
- Morning Glory needs a steady cut back once established or will want to be your boss, but easy to grow and pretty pretty pretty.
- Cape Honeysuckle? Canary Creeper? Plumbago? Wisteria? Find out about them if you are not familiar with these creepers – more pretty and good faithful growers.
- Please do not forget your rambling and climbing roses – oh what choice!
“Tea in the arbour, ma’am?” “Thank you James, don’t mind if I do.”
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P.S. Scatter orange peel in slivers on top of your mulching to deter cats. They will not like the scent and you may get more fragrance, the deterrent and some natural mulch added to your container garden on all in one!