The Q&A Archives: West Facing Wall

Question: I live in a 15th century rectory and moved in last october. On the large west facing wall there was a shrub which was very large and obviously dead. I dug it up and now the garden looks very bare. Please could you suggest a large shrub/climber which would grow up the 40-60ft wall with a strong tree like base, that is evergreen and fragrant?

Answer: Here are a few things to consider:

Do you want something that actually clings to the masonry? I'm not sure if this type of vine would damage such an old building, so you may want to consult with a local specialist. Even if the vine doesn't damage the stone directly, the foliage will shade the wall and hold in moisture. Just something to consider.

If you want a vine that will cling, you'll need one that climbs with "holdfasts" -- little suction-cup like disks -- such as English ivy. Unfortunately, this is neither flowering nor fragrant.

Another option might be to "espalier" a tree along the wall. This consist of training a tree to grow on support wires secured to the wall, so that it lies in a plane near the wall. This is most often done with fruit trees. Unfortunately, they are not evergreen, and don't grow that tall.

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