Ask Alys: clematis

Clematis montana rubens ‘Tetrarose’ can be pruned to hug a wall. Photograph: Alamy

I want a climber against the wall in my front garden. It faces south, can be very warm in summer, but also windy, because we face the sea which is 10 miles away. I have tried a climbing rose but it didn’t thrive.

There are many plants that don’t mind hot conditions, and a fair few that don’t mind seaside ones, but add wind and it’s a different game.

As long as you add enough homemade compost (semi-rotted is best, the kind you’d add to a bean trench), a Clematis montana would survive. There are numerous varieties, but ‘Tetrarose’ is a pretty pink one. It’s not a climber, but Choisya ternata will tolerate your conditions and could be pruned to hug the wall. This evergreen bush is known as Mexican orange blossom, because the flowers smell like orange flowers. The bees love them, too.

I also wonder if you could get away with a ceanothus? They like sunny conditions and are tolerant of seaside, but very drying, cold winds may be an issue. You probably don’t want to hear this, but you’d definitely get ivy to grow up the wall.

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