Gardeners World episode 25 2002: Gardeners World team and Alan Titchmarsh present seasonal highlights from across the country, visit stunning gardens, meet the gardeners and find out their secrets of success.
Gardeners World episode 25 2002
Shade-tolerant, easy to grow and evergreen, ivies have a lot to offer gardeners. Their dense growth and nectar-rich flowers are useful for wildlife too.
Growing well almost anywhere, ivies are remarkable for their shade tolerance – and for the fact that they also grow well in full sun. They make excellent groundcover, quickly covering difficult areas such as dry shade, stabilising the soil and providing year-round greenery. Another useful attribute is that the climbing forms are self-clinging, which means that it’s not necessary to attach any kind of fixing if you want to grow them up walls or fences.
Ivies are generally unfussy as to their soil requirements, as long as the site isn’t waterlogged. Common ivy (Hedera helix) grows best in alkaline soils: in acidic conditions try Persian ivy (Hedera colchica) or Algerian ivy (H. algeriensis). Commonly-available sorts are all hardy, although H. algeriensis may suffer in severe winters in particularly cold areas of the UK.
Climbers and wall shrubs for shade
North- or east-facing walls and fences often receive very little direct sunlight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grow plants in these places. When choosing a climber or wall shrub for such a spot, choose one that can cope with cold and shady conditions.
Climbers have a natural tendency to climb and some will even self-cling, without requiring tying-in to supports. Wall shrubs, by contrast, do not naturally climb. If left alone, they bush outwards and grow like shrubs. With specific pruning and training techniques, they can be trained to grow against walls. Choose plants that will be happy in your garden soil conditions. Some plants are adapted to different soil types (clay or sand for example), and others require acid soil conditions.
Make sure your pruning and training technique encourages the plant to cover the wall as quickly and efficiently as possible. Climbers and wall shrubs require training and pruning as soon as they are planted.