The numerous hardy climbers which we possess are very rarely seen to advantage, owing to their being; stiffly trained against walls. Indeed, the greater number of hardy climbers have gone out of cultivation mainly for this reason. One of the happiest of all ways of using them is that of training them in a free manner over trees; in this way many beautiful effects may be secured. Established trees have usually exhausted the ground near their base, which may, however, afford nutriment to a hardy climbing shrub. In some low trees the graceful companion may garland their heads; in tall ones the stem only may at first be adorned. But some vigorous climbers could in time ascend the tallest trees, and there can be nothing more beautiful than a veil of such a one as Clematis montana suspended from the branch of a tall tree. A whole host of lovely plants may be seen to great advantage in this way, apart from the well-known and popular climbing plants. There are, for example, many species of Clematis which have never come into cultivation, but which are quite as beautiful as any climbers. The same may be said of the Honeysuckles, wild Vines, and various other families of which the names may be found in catalogues. Much of the northern tree and shrub world is garlanded with creepers, which may be grown in similar ways, as, for example, on banks and in hedgerows. The trees in our pleasure-grounds, however, have the first claim on our attention in planting garlands.
Large White Clematis on Yew tree at Great Tew. ( C.montana grandiflora.).
There would seldom be need to fear injury to established trees.
Some time ago I saw a Weeping Willow, on the margin of a lake, that had its trunk clothed with Virginian Creeper, and the effect in autumn, when the sun shone through the drooping branches of the Willow - whose leaves were just becoming tinged with gold - upon the crimson of the creeper-covered trunk was very fine. The Hop is a very effective plant for draping a thin specimen Arbor-vita?, or Yew tree, but the shoots should be thinned out in spring, and not more than three or four allowed to climb up to the tree. When the leader emerges from the top of the bush, and throws its long, graceful wreaths of Hops over the dark green foliage, the contrast is most effective. The Wistaria, if planted before its support has become old, will combine with excellent effect with any single specimen of not too dense a habit.
A correspondent, who has added largely to the charms of a place in Suffolk by means of the wild garden, writes as follows : - " Some time ago I discovered and had removed from the woods to the pleasure-grounds a robust round-headed Holly tree, which had been taken entire possession of by a wild Honeysuckle, which, originating at the root of the tree, had scrambled up through the branches to the top, and there, extending itself in all directions, had formed a large head and hung in festoons all round - a highly ornamental object indeed. The Holly had endured the subjection for many years, and still seemed to put forth sufficient shoots and leaves annually to ensure a steady support to its climbing companion.The birds also had discovered that the dense and tangled thicket created by the Honeysuckle was a, suitable home for their young, for inside of it was a regular settlement of nests of various kinds; and, since the tree has been moved it has been taken complete possession of again by the bird tribe." The Honeysuckle in question is an example of what might be done with such handsome and free growing climbers and scrambling Roses. What could be more effective, for instance, than a lofty tree-like mass of the purple and white Clematis mixed, or either of these alone, or, better still, a gigantic head of Roses ? I throw out these hints for those who choose to act upon them. Draped trees, such as I have described, may soon be had. I do not know that a better tree than the Holly could be selected for a support, Where the trees are not in the place in which they are wanted, they should be moved about the end of August to the desired situation, and if some good rich soil - loam and decayed manure - is furnished to the roots at the same time, it will be in proper condition for climbers in spring. The latter should be planted pretty closely to the stem of the tree, and a start should be made with good vigorous plants, whether of Honeysuckle, Roses, or Clematis. The Roses and other things will want a little leading off at first till they get hold of their supporters, but afterwards no pruning or interference should be attempted.
The way the climbing plants of the world are crucified in gardens - winter effect (a faithful sketch).
Climbing shrub (Celastrus), isolated on the grass ; way of growing woody Climbers away from walls or other supports.
Mr. Hovey, in a letter from Boston, Mass., wrote as follows, on certain interesting aspects of tree drapery : -
Some ten or fifteen years ago we had occasion to plant three or four rows of popular climbers in nursery rows, about 100 feet long ; these consisted of the Virginian creeper, the Moonseed (Menispermum), Periploca graeca, and Celastrus scandens ; subsequently, it happened accidentally that four rows of rather large Tartarian (so-called) Arbor-vita's were planted on one side, and about the same number of rows of Smoke trees, Philadelphia, and Cornus florida, on the other. For three or four years many of these climbers were taken up annually until rather too old to remove, and year by year the Arbor-vitaes and shrubs were thinned out until what were too large to safely transplant remained. But the land was not wanted then, and the few scattered trees and climbers grew on while cultivation was partially neglected, a large specimen being occasionally taken out until the climbers had fairly taken possession of the trees, and are now too beautiful to disturb. It forms the most unique specimen of tree drapery I have ever seen. Some of the Arbor-vitaes are entirely overrun with the Moonseed (Menispermum), whose large, slightly-scalloped leaves overlap one another from the ground to the top like slates on a roof. Over others, the gloomy leaves of the Periploca scramble, and also the Oelastrus, and on still others the deep green leaves of the Ampelopsis completely festoon the tree ; of some trees all four and other climbers have taken possession ; and from among the tops of the Sumach the feathery tendrils of the Ampelopsis, and, just now, its deep blue berries hold full sway. And these are not all. The Apios tuberosa is indigenous, and springs up everywhere as soon as our land is neglected. This has also overrun several trees, and coils up and wreaths each outstretching branch with its little bunches of fragrant brownish coloured flowers. It is the Arbor-vita's which give the peculiar beauty of this description of tree drapery. On the deciduous trees the new growth lengthens rapidly, and the branches soon get far apart ; but with Arbor-vitaes, which always present a round compact head, the effect is entirely different ; they are covered so densely that it is impossible, in some instances, to say what the tree is that supports the climbers. One Hemlock Spruce (Abies canadensis) has every branch loaded with the Apios and profuse with blossoms ; but this one sees happen with other trees. The Smoke tree looks interesting just now, while its flowers are fresh, but soon they will fade, and the dry tops will be a disadvantage ; but the Arbor-vitae will remain clothed with the foliage, flowers, and berries too, of the Celastrus until the autumn frosts have shorn them of their beauty, and no falling leaves are scattered around. The Arbor-vitae is the tree I would recommend when it is desirable to produce such effects as I have described. When such strong-growing climbers as Begonias and Wistarias take possession of a shrub they generally injure it; but the very slender stems of Menispermum and Apios die entirely to the ground after the first sharp frost, and the slender stems of the others do not appear to arrest the growth of the Arbor-vitaes, which are restored when the climbers are down, and, after full eight months' rest, are again ready to aid in sustaining their more dependent companions. The Honeysuckle, the Clematis, and similar plants might, no doubt, be added to the list, and give more variety, as well as fragrance and beauty, but I have only detailed the effects of what has been done, leaving what might be effected for some future trial.
But the noblest kind of climbers forming drapery for trees are not so often seen as some of the general favourites mentioned above. A neglected group are the wild Vines, plants of the highest beauty, and which, if allowed to spring through the tall trees, which they would quickly do would soon charm by their bold grace. Some of them are fine in colour of foliage in autumn. With these might be associated, though not so fine in form, certain free-grow-ing species of Ampelopsis, grown in some nurseries. The Wistaria is also well worth growing on trees, in districts where it flowers freely away from walls. In visiting the garden of MM. Van Eden, at Haarlem, I was surprised to see a Liane, in the shape of the well-known Aristolochia or Dutchman's Pipe, which had clambered high into a fine old deciduous Cypress. Being much interested in this long-established companionship, I was able to procure, through the kindness of Messrs. Van Eden, photographs of the tree and its Liane, from which this illustration was engraved. When I saw it early in spring the leaves had not appeared on either the tree or its companion, and the effect of the old rope-like stems was very picturesque. The Aristolochia ascends to a height of 35 ft. C in. on the tree.
A Liane in the North, Aristolochia and Deciduous Cypress. E.
The tree was a superb specimen, and was not in the least injured by the growth of the climber. What a beautiful effect a graceful flowering climber would afford in a similar case! Imagine one of the white-flowered Clematis (which may be seen as many as over forty feet in height under suitable conditions) garlanding such a tree, or any tree, with wreaths of fragrant blossoms. Strange and lovely aspects of vegetation may be created in our pleasure-grounds by the judicious use of these climbers, varying according to the trees and their position, and also as to their being evergreen or summer-leafing. Even where one might fear to injure a valuable tree by a vigorous climber, trees may easily be found of little value, and much may be done even with the old or dead trees.
A beautiful accident. - A colony of Myrrhis odorata, established in shrubbery, with white Harebells here and there. (See p. 60.).