Climbing plants are used for privacy, for screening unsightly objects, for shade and for a display of color.
Boundaries and Screens
On small properties, climbers are often grown along the wire boundary fences to provide a screen of foliage that gives a measure of privacy. They take up considerably less room than shrubs and so allow a wider border for growing flowers. Climbers need to have attractive foliage so that they make a good background for the flowers. Rapid, dense growth is necessary for early coverage and privacy. Also, the plants have to be hardy enough to carry the greater part of their wood through the winter in healthy condition. Attractive bloom is, of course, an advantage but not so necessary here, as the main object of the climbers is to form a background. Virginia creeper is a good climber to use on boundary fences.
Where climbers are used to cover bare or unattractive wall areas, you need a self-clinging, hardy growth that requires little attention. The Boston ivy is our best climber for covering masonry walls wherever it is hardy, but Englemann's ivy is hardy over a wider section of the country.
There is nothing to be gained by covering an architecturally attractive wall space. Bare walls are broken up better by a branch or two of ivy running across them than by a solid expanse of foliage.
Climbers provide shade when they are used to cover pergolas, porches and garden shelters. Since these structures are usually used for family activities, the climbers must be tidy and free from insects. Also, as good circulation of air is needed, growth must not be so dense that it shuts of the breeze. Such plants must be hardy enough to survive our winters and be able to provide shade by early June.
The large, attractive foliage and fairly open growth of Dutchman's pipe is excellent for this purpose. Moonseed and climbing honeysuckles are also suitable.
Where climbers are used to provide a display of color, bloom is, of course, the most important consideration. Climbing roses and the late-blooming varieties of clematis are the best Canadian examples. Neither is really a true climber as both require tying to trellises or supports.
Because of their outstanding appearance, these displays must be used as specimen or accent plants to be effective. Use them (1) to mark entrances, as on arches or on the pillars of pergolas; (2) at strategic points in perennial or annual borders; (3) to mark the ends of minor axes; or (4) by repetition at regular intervals along a formal border or path, to carry the eye by progression to some focal point in the distance. They are being used increasingly in modern gardens to decorate broad, flat wall spaces or plywood screens.
Ground-covering plants are very useful in modern gardens, where broad low masses are often needed beneath an overhanging roof to carry out the lines of the house. Such plants like the beautiful dwarf asters need to he hardy, at least when covered with snow. They should have neat foliage, which may be more attractive if it is shiny or distinctive in some other way. Winter creeper, periwinkle and Japanese spurge are good examples.
Sometimes it is difficult, or monotonous, to cover banks with grass; or you may want to provide something more interesting than grass beneath trees or shrubs. Ground-covering plants are useful here, too. On an open bank, rambler roses are often grown to good advantage and they make an excellent show when in bloom. To replace grass beneath trees or shrubs, try periwinkle, a trailing evergreen perennia.