roses growing over garden arches

How To Cover An Arch Or Pergola With Scented Climbers

Create a focal point with scented climbers growing over a pretty arch

Growing scented climbers over an arch can create a focal point and some height to your garden. Make sure that the arch you choose is suitable for the type of climber you want to grow; the more flimsy metal arches are really only suitable for growing Sweet Peas, for all the other climbers go for a substantial wooden or wrought iron arch secured firmly to the ground. Make sure that there is adequate space at the base of the arch for planting as all these climbers are not suitable for growing in containers.

Akebia quinata (Chocolate Vine)

  • semi-evergreen
  • needs a sheltered south or west facing position in full sun or partial shade. Early morning sun can damage flowers after a frost so avoid an east facing position
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil
  • border-line hardy; may need protection in winter in the north of the country
  • vanilla scented
  • reddish-purple flowers in late spring/early summer; very occasionally will bear fruit if you have two plants in a warm sheltered position. Flower colour may fade in strong sunlight
  • usually pest and disease free
  • regular pruning not necessary, just trim to keep its shape
  • keep watered and feed in early spring with a balanced fertiliser; Growmore or blood, fish and bone
  • height 12m (39’) in 10 years

Akebia quinata Chocolate Vine

Image: Apple2000

Clematis
C. flammula

  • evergreen
  • needs sheltered position in sun or semi-shade
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil. Like all clematis, keep the roots and base of the plant cool by planting behind other plants
  • border-line hardy; may need protection in winter in the north of the country
  • almond scented
  • star-shaped creamy white flowers in late summer/early autumn
  • in the first year after planting prune down to about 30cm (12”) above 2 – 3 healthy buds; once established cut back in winter/early spring to about 90cm (3’)
  • keep watered and feed in early spring with a balanced fertiliser; Growmore or blood, fish and bone
  • height 4m (13’)

C. armandii

  • evergreen
  • needs sheltered position in sun or semi-shade, facing south or west
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil, either alkaline or neutral.  Like all clematis keep the roots and base of the plant cool by planting behind other plants
  • border-line hardy; may need protection in winter in the north of the country
  • almond scented
  • small white star-like flowers
  • regular pruning is not necessary just prune back to 2 – 3 healthy buds, about 30cm (12”) above ground the first year after planting. After which just prune to keep tidy and contained
  • keep watered and apply a balanced fertiliser after flowering
  • height 8m (26’)

Jasmine officinale (Poet’s Jasmine)

  • semi-evergreen in mild frost-free areas otherwise deciduous; forms a dense cover
  • needs sheltered position in sun or semi-shade, facing south or west out of the wind
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil
  • border-line hardy; may need protection in winter in the north of the country
  • heavy scent when planted in a sunny position
  • small white starry flowers
  • cut back when finished flowering at the end of summer
  • keep watered and apply a balanced fertiliser in spring
  • height  12m (40’)
  • J. grandiflorum has larger flowers and pink tinged buds

Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea)

  • annual
  • needs full sun
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil, add extra organic matter when planting and a balanced fertiliser such as Growmore or blood, fish and bone. They like their roots cool so make sure they are always kept damp, mulch after planting
  • masses of different colours and varieties
  • keep picking the flowers to encourage the plant to keep on producing more
  • height 180 – 240cm (6 – 8’)

Lathyrus odoratus Sweet Pea

Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
Depending upon the varieties you choose you can have a succession of flowers from May to October.
L. x americana

  • deciduous but can be evergreen if it’s a mild winter
  • sun or partial shade, any aspect but needs shelter in the north of the country. Needs cool roots so plant behind other plants
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil
  • border-line hardy
  • flowers start white then go to yellow with dark purple in summer to early autumn
  • cut back in late winter/early spring
  • mildew can be a problem so make sure it is always damp and has good airflow by cutting out any congested stems
  • keep watered and mulch in autumn
  • height 4m (13’)

L. japonica ‘Halliana’

  • evergreen if winters are mild
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil
  • any aspect in the south, south or west facing in the north; not exposed or windy site
  • border-line hardy
  • scent best in early morning and the evening
  • flowers start white then change to yellow
  • doesn’t really need pruning just cut back to fit the space and remove any dead or diseased branches in early spring
  • height 3.6m (12’)

L. periclymemum ‘Serotina’

  • deciduous
  • moist, well draining, humus rich soil
  • performs best in partial shade but will tolerate full sun
  • borderline hardy in the north
  • flowers cream with crimson/pink buds
  • cut back after flowering
  • height 4 – 6m (15 – 20’)

Roses
There’s nothing quite like the scent of roses on a summer’s day and they come in a range of colours from deepest red to pure white. There are full-cupped English rose types, dainty floribundas and perfectly formed hybrid teas.

  • deciduous, may keep some leaves if the winters are mild
  • full sun preferably but will tolerate a little shade; some varieties are more shade tolerant than othersd
  • deep, fertile, humus rich, moist but well-draining soil. When planting add plenty of organic matter in the form of well-rotted farmyard manure or good quality peat-free compost. Container grown roses can be planted any time of the year provided soil conditions are suitable but bare root plants, usually cheaper, are planted from late autumn to early spring when they are dormant. They benefit from mycorrhizal fungi being added to the planting hole  
  • hardy
  • cut back in winter; cut stems back to a node when dead-heading
  • mildew can be a problem so make sure they are always damp and have a good airflow by keeping the centre of the plant fairly open. Black spot can be problematic in wet weather so spray with a fungicide at the first signs and take off and burn any infected leaves. Some varieties are more resistant than others
  • keep watered, feed with a rose fertiliser in early spring and summer, mulch in autumn
  • many of the David Austin English shrub roses will make small climbers if you don’t prune them hard
  • height varies 1.8 – 5.5m (6 – 18’)

A Shropshire Lad  -  peachy/pink, repeat flowering, good disease resistance, almost thornless, height 3m (10’)
Crown Princess Margareta  -  apricot, repeat flowering, good disease resistance, tolerates shade, height 3.6m (12’)
James Galway  -  mid-pink, repeat flowering, good disease resistance, almost thornless, height 3.6m (12’)
Maigold  -  bronze/yellow, repeat flowering, large open flowers, height 5.5m (18’)
Ophelia  -  pale blush pink, repeat flowering, good disease resistance, height 5.5m (18’)
Sombreuil  -  creamy white, repeat flowering, height 4.5m (15’)
The Pilgrim  -  yellow, repeat flowering, good disease resistance, good for shade, height 3.6m (12’)
Tess of the D’Urbervilles  -  deep crimson, repeat flowering, early to flower, height 3m (10’)

roses growing over a garden arch

Trachelospermum (Rynchospermum) jasminoides (Star Jasmine)

  • evergreen
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil
  • south facing, full sun
  • needs protection from frost
  • small white star-like flowers from June to August
  • prune after flowering
  • height 3m (10’)

Trachelospermum (Rynchospermum) jasminoides Star Jasmine

Image: pizzodisevo

Wisteria

  • deciduous
  • moist, well-draining, humus rich soil with a large root run
  • full sun, dappled shade, shelter from cold winds
  • hardy
  • prune twice a year; 2 months after flowering and mid-winter, generally take branches back by about two-thirds
  • make sure they are grafted plants not seedlings as they can take up to 15 years to flower and the resulting plant may not be good quality
  • feed in early spring and mid-summer after the first prune, make sure they are kept well watered
  • height 9m (28’)

W. x formosa

  • violet/blue flowers in May/June

W. x venusta (brachybotrys)

  • large cream flowers
  • can be difficult to source, but worth the search

For more information, hints and tips on gardening just get in touch with our team in the Outdoor Plant department here in store.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer so always used to producing something from the earth, whether it was animals or garden produce. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I also keep a few hens and grow vegetables for my own personal use. I gained a BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management. As a result of this I have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening.