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The dizzy heights of summertime climbers; GARDENING Tips and common sense from our expert.

Byline: Graham Porter

IF YOU have ever seen the perennial cup and saucer flower, Cobaea scandens, in its full summer glory or an old conifer covered in the scarlet red flowers of the Flame Creeper, Tropaeolum speciosum, you will know that the world of summer flowering garden climbers goes way beyond the limited vision of clematis and the climbing rose.

One of my personal favourites is the Chilean Glory Flower, Eccremocarpus scaber, with its long racemes of orange-red tubular flowers, and it seems to continue flowering from late spring to autumn.

As it is very generous in its production of seed, it is easy to harvest and store it in a paper bag overwinter, then to sow a batch for distribution to your neighbours and friends, or just give them some seed and let them do it for themselves.

As this plant is not guaranteed to be fully hardy, given its South American origin, choose a warm, sunny, sheltered corner.

Morning glory, Ipomaea species, produce those stunning blue, mauve and purple funnel shaped flowers that remind you of the pernicious weed, bindweed that scrambles through hedges with its white flowers in mid to late summer.

Thankfully, the forms normally available to us are not invasive and many are just annuals. Look out for Ipomaea tricolour, I.

purpurea and a strange variation, commonly known as the Spanish Flag, I.


Black-eyed Susan, Thunbergia alata, is a popular addition to the summer garden and is particularly good for hanging baskets and small containers, where it can scramble through other plants, only really showing itself when its small five-petalled yellow flowers, with the chocolate-purple centres, pop their heads out into the summer sunshine.

Tropaeolum is a genus of some 90 species, with one of the horticultural world's strange taxonomic anomalies contained within it.

What we all choose to colloquially call nasturtium is in fact Tropaeolum majus, that has produced hundreds of hybrids, so popular in our summer gardens.

Its correct common name is Indian cress because you can eat the foliage and flowers and their peppery taste reminds us of rocket and cress - guess what the scientific name for cress is? You got it first time - nasturtium!! The plant, no matter what you choose to call it, is more of a scrambler than a climber but will make its way up a wall if there is something to hang on to - it works well in baskets where you can sow the seed directly rather than growing a plant in a pot first.

Another annual Tropaeolum that is worth searching out is T. peregrinum, the Canary creeper, with bright yellow flowers whose outer edges are said to resemble tiny bird's wings.

Of course, the ultimate summer climber has to be the annual sweet pea, lathyrus odoratus, in all its wonderful variations.

If you have not planted yours yet, get them into some well-prepared ground now.

One of the best catalogues to use to search out the seed of these interesting additions to the summer garden is Chiltern Seeds, Bortree Stile, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7PB. Telephone 01229 584549. Website:Intro


* STRIKING: The beautiful cup and saucer flower Cobaea scandens (above) and the Chilean Glory Flower, Eccremocarpus scaber, with its long orange flowers
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 30, 2009
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