Growing shrubs up walls, often allows you to grow slightly more tender varieties and allows you to enjoy the full structure of the plant even if it is deciduous, as the wall will still be clothed in branches. It also means that you have the joy of a ‘climber’ but with out the rampantness of climbing plants. So wall shrubs work well for a more compacted space. Here are a few to consider.
Cheanomeles japonica ‘Madam Butterfly’: A wonderful deciduous wall shrub. Thorny bare branches produce orange flower buds giving way to large open peach flowers with golden stamens in February- March. The flowers are followed by yellow ornamental ‘quinces’ in autumn. Grows in most soils in sun of partial shade. Do not allow to dry out.
Cotonester horizontalis: This is a stunning wall shrub and it is it’s growing habit that is the star. It’s branches fan out and each has a herring-bone pattern of twigs, making it a wonderful addition to the winter garden. It has small dark green leaves and tiny white flowers in spring, the leaves go a rich red in autumn and it has tiny round dark red berries. Grows nearly anywhere and will even cope with very dry poor soils. Part shade to full sun.
Cytisus battandieri: Okay this shrub ticks the box of a bit more unusual. Nicknamed the ‘Pineapple broom’ after it’s unusual flowers, which are dense racemes of golden yellow flowers which do indeed look fairly pineapple like, it also smells of pineapples. It trains into a good wall shrub, with soft sliver foliage and in warmer climes is semi-evergreen.
Ceanothus x delileannus ‘Gloire de versailles’: makes a great wall shrub as it can have rather a lax habit, so it is easily trained . A deciduous ceanothus with mid green foliage. Freely producing large racemes of powder blue flowers, from mid summer up to the first frosts. Watch for drying out and plant in full sun.
Fremontodenddron ‘California Glory’: A large very vigorous evergreen wall shrub, with lobbed downy green sliver leaves. Large yellow cup flowers during the summer months. Most soils and grow in full sun. Warning this plant can cause skin and eye irritation.
Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’: A large evergreen shrub with dark green crinkly leaves with a silvery underside. Producing long grey catkins during February and March. A superb coastal plant. Partial shade.
Tips: Wall shrubs differ from climbers, in the fact that they have no means of supporting themselves and as they make woody growth they can be heavy. So a few wires and a flimsy trellis will not cut it. You need to put in a good solid structure of either very close and strong horizontal wires or a purpose made trellis made out of something as sturdy as roofing battens. It is very important to get the wall structure up before planting. So you can train your wall shrub from the start. Also because wall shrubs create a good strong structure in themselves, they are perfect to grow twinning climbers up, like clematis etc, but make sure you choose a planting partner, whose size and vigour fit in with the size and growth of the host wall shrub.
I hope you now feel inspired to look again at wall shrubs and perhaps plant something a little more unusual. If you want help with planning new planting in your garden then do give me Emily a ring 01273 470753. I would be delighted to discuss your planting project and any aspects of garden design with you.