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In the garden with Sophie Thomson

Going up! Vertical gardens can save on space, add shade and screen unwanted areas. Sophie Thomson shares her tips on going up and over.  

Vertical vegies
If you only have limited space, why not grow something productive? A passionfruit is evergreen but can get rampant, so consider growing some vegies. Depending on the season and position, you can choose from tomatoes, Tromboncino zucchini, cucumbers, climbing or Malabar spinach, peas and beans. 2 metres plus

Climbing roses
These are a joy in a sunny garden; grown against a wall or fence, up a post, over an arch or through a tripod. Choose a repeat flowering variety in the colour and form you like. You can even choose one which is either truly thornless, or virtually so, such as Iceberg (pure white), Kathleen Harrop (pale pink) or Zephruin Druhin (cerise pink). 2–5 metres

Chinese star jasmine
Possibly the most used evergreen climber because it is so reliable, this climber will grow in sun or semi-shade. It is not a true jasmine and as such doesn’t give people headaches. It produces white starry flowers which have a delightful sweet scent in spring and summer. It has dark green leathery foliage and can be trained to keep its foliage all the way to the base of the plant. 2–4 metres

Climbing geraniums
While sometimes viewed as old-fashioned, these really are a hardy water-wise climber for a sunny spot. Often seen growing on Stobie poles, they also grow well along fences or screens and can take radiant heat off metal fences, buildings or road and footpath surfaces. They produce a mass of blooms over a long period in colours ranging from pure white and every shade of pink and lavender to red. 2–4 metres

Mandevilla cultivars (eg ‘Aloha’ series)
These showy evergreen climbers produce a mass of large trumpet flowers throughout the warmer weather. They are available in a white, pink and several shades of red. Note: these plants are not frost hardy. 2–3 metres

Sweet peas
While only annuals, these delightful climbing plants produce sweetly scented blooms in spring which make excellent cut flowers. Sow seeds in autumn at around St Patrick’s Day (March 17). 2 metres

TIP
Always check your selection with knowledgeable gardening staff at your local nursery or garden centre, and of course be prepared to prune any climber to keep it compact.