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Climber ideas needed for very stony soil, please!

(10 Posts)
FlightHattendant Mon 31-Aug-09 14:50:09

I've got a little place at the front of the house where the people upstairs go into their front hall. It's right by the bedroom window so I'd like to plant something there to climb up.

I bought a nice evergreen climber but after 6 months though it's grown sporadically, it's looked miserable most of the time...I finally gave in and took it out just now to find it's put down no roots at all, out of its pot shape sad

So it's found a new home round the back.

I dug into the hole and found the 'soil' to be very stony, moreso than I thought at first - really gravelly buildre's soil. Is there anything that will survive and penetrate it with long seeking roots, to get to the better stuff? On the other side of the window I dug two holes with a pick axe and the clematis and honeysuckle I put in have done brilliantly, but I think the soil might have less rubble and sand in it over that side.
Luckily they are sending out long shoots to that side too, but I would like to put something in there as well, if anyone can tell me what might take and be happy.

Thanks in anticipation.

Uriel Mon 31-Aug-09 15:13:35

You could try the RHS plant selector.

How much sun does the front get - which way does the house face? Can you improve the soil?

FlightHattendant Mon 31-Aug-09 15:15:41

Oh, many thanks Uriel. I will try it in a mo.

It gets full sun all morning then less in the afternoon but it's fairly exposed.

Not much chance of improving the soil, as it's in a tiny corner between concrete steps and the front of the house...and a driveway in front. The patch of earth was only there because they dug it up to put in stopcocks.

Tangle Mon 31-Aug-09 16:15:38

How about a vine? A lot of the grapes in bordeaux grow in what is, to all intents and purposes, a gravel bed.

Whatever you plant it would be worth breaking up the "soil" as much as possible and mixing some compost or manure into the top to help encourage the roots to spread. It could also be worth running a soil test - if its builder's rubble it could be very lime rich, which may limit your plant options a bit.

Pannacotta Mon 31-Aug-09 21:04:23

You could try Ceanothus, which is a wall shrub but is good against walls and is happy with poor, sandy/stony soil.
There are some lovely ones, most are evergreen and nearly all are rich blue but there is a white one too.

FlightHattendant Mon 31-Aug-09 21:08:18

Thankyou very much, both - excellent ideas and tips. I'll try and break up the ground a bit more, maybe with the axe again...see if I can pull out some of it and replace with nice soil. But I worry about the plant's roots getting to the edge of the nice bit and then dying!

Will see if I can find my testing kit.

Ceanothus is a good idea, wanted something evergreen as well. Cheers. smile

Pannacotta Tue 01-Sep-09 09:02:55

Flight you could also try Pyracantha, it's tolerant of most soils and aspects and you get evergreen foiliage, flowers and fruit and is great for birds.
IMO the red berried ones are the nicest, and they look good clipped as wall shrubs. They are often used on walls of grand period houses - I think you live in an old property?

ShellingPeas Tue 01-Sep-09 10:43:03

If you were looking for something evergreen you could try a fig - they need restricted roots to fruit, so would probably be quite happy if their roots struck rubble at the edge of the planting hole.

Pannacotta Tue 01-Sep-09 12:04:58

Figs are deciduous though SehllingPeas...

ShellingPeas Tue 01-Sep-09 22:41:37

oops got that one wrong perhaps for the uk. The one I grew in NZ always kept a modicum of leaves throughout the year so thought they all did. Hey ho.

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