I’ve been looking into climbers for wet soil today, for something I’m working on, and the fact is there don’t seem to be very many.
The first one that came to mind was Smilax, because we have a great tangle of a one growing in a boggy portion of our woods here in Pennsylvania. But - how can we say this politely - it’s not very colorful. And its spines are vicious.
Over in England I’ve seen honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, with its roots in ditches as it climbs trees on the bank so that looks promising and there’s now quite a range of varieties, including the prolific yellow-flowered ‘Graham Thomas’ (click to enlarge).
Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is often recommended as well as climbing hydrangea, H. anomala subsp. petiolaris. I’ve also come across the suggestion that climbing, or more particularly, rambling roses are good in wet soil.
It seems to be mainly the really vigorous roses – ‘Kiftsgate, ‘Bobbie James’, R. banksiae – that are suggested. I know a lot of roses like heavy soil but that’s not quite the same as wet soil. Any thoughts?
Akebia, Campsis, ivy, jasmine, Vitis palmata (which I’ve never even heard of) are also recommended in various sources.
To help, I’ve just ordered a book called Managing the Wet Garden by my old boss John Simmons, Curator at Kew years ago. It’s based on his experiences in his soggy English retirement in garden in Norfolk (Was he mad? Well, at least he got a book out of it!) . He knows his plants and has a good eye – so I’m sure it will be useful.
In the meantime - while I’m off out to ID the Smilax in the woods a little more precisely - any more ideas for climbers for wet soil?
UPDATE: Turns out it's the common (aka roundleaf) greenbrier, Smilax rotundifolia. Quite an attractive foliage plant but, this year at least, no flowers and no fruits - not that either are especially exciting...