30 July 2011

Brick Walls

We are surrounded by ironstone here, and it makes a perfect warm-neutral backdrop for plants. It's so easy: everything looks good against it. But some of us live in brick dwellings and... it's very hard. Especially for someone who has taken seven years to choose a door colour. Old or new, the reddish colour of brick can be tricky. Pale colours seem to work on brick: cream, shell pink, pale yellow. Green is good. A trained fig against a vinery wall is heaven.

At Brooke Hall, there are a lot of walls and almost all of them have some plant life attached. (The wall at the top of this page is a very pleasant exception). Masses of wisteria drape over them in spring, and their elegance suits the place. There is also clematis montana, golden hop, climbing hydrangea. All useful plants for covering or hiding things. But why cover and smother with walls as lovely as these?

It's nice to decorate walls without putting climbers all over them. A viburnum opulus, semi-espaliered against a wall, when there isn't much else going on, gives a glimpse into what might be happening soon. Box planted really close to a wall and spreading against it, draws attention to its lovely bricks and provides some discreet greenery. With climbers, a pale rose is a classic when kept trim, espaliered or fan shaped. Similarly yellow jasmine. Like a rose, jasmine can be any shape you want it to be. A big straggly mess is not always the best way...

Breaking all the rules set out above, a really bright annual climber like nasturtium (shown here with a cup and saucer vine), should be allowed to spread itself abundantly over a brick wall, just because it's summer. But just make sure the wall is covered with lichen or peeling whitewash first.


  1. Where the bleedin ell are you? We want more gardening wisdom please!

  2. Just back from the Balearics, studying their flora and fauna and rusty bedsprings.