II had planned to write about something completely different for this week’s column, but on the way to my study I saw a robin out the window with a beak full of food shooting into the climbing hydrangea that covers the side of my house. It took everything not to spend the day at the window and watch this new family nest.
I often think how wonderful it would be if we could decide together to soften our hard boundaries and open up our homes to others. What if row houses disappear behind a green coat of climbing plants and cool our interiors in summer? What if new buildings were pre-wired with tendril eyes for clematis, roses, jasmine and honeysuckle? Imagine how nice it would be to walk our streets if they were filled with the noises that non-human people live.
Lonicera periclymenuum ‘Scentsation’ is compact. Photo: Alamy
My climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris, is a good choice for a north-facing aspect. It’s also self-adhesive. It is in flower now and its pointed, cream-colored, gently scented honey-scented flowers are extremely attractive to all types of pollinators, especially bees. There is also a pink flower shape, H. anomala subsp. glabra ‘Crûg Coral’.
At the end of the season it begins to turn buttery yellow, and I often stand and admire its skeletal seed heads against the bright blue of a sunny winter’s day. I love everything about it (even having to climb a tall ladder to convince it not to grow over the windows) because it brought the dull walls of my house to life.
Trachelospermum jasminoides is a breeze. Photo: Gap photos
There are many ways to dress up walls; not all of them have to take over your house, but many need support. If you want a rose, David Austin Roses can help you find the height of your wall. The star jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides is child’s play and perfect for sheltered city squares. It will do well in a very large pot (think over 70 liters) and will not mind the sun or partial shade. Once the flowers are out and the scented smell, all of your windows will be open.
If these are a bit too predictable then go for the elegance of Lonicera periclymenum ‘Graham Thomas’ which blooms repeatedly through September, or ‘Scentsation’ which is more compact and better if you are in a ground floor apartment with no rights to the Walls of the upper floor.
After all, I love the scent of the Akebia quinata ‘Alba’ vine. It has the pale pink flowers that smell of spicy chocolate with a strong hint of vanilla in spring. It can produce strange, sausage-shaped, dark purple fruits that are edible, as are the young shoots. It must be grown from wires on a sunny wall.