The best climbers for shade | Alys Fowler

Our gardening expert on how she quickly improved the view from her washing-up bowl

I have been washing up looking out on a wooden fence for over 10 years. Once, I tried to rectify this with hanging pot holders – but it was a sad attempt. Most of the path runs down the side return, so it is north-west facing, but it’s also sliced between two buildings so it’s light. It’s very much a shaft, but it’s a warm, sheltered one.

Last year, I had an inspired moment with a wrecking bar and chisel, and liberated pockets of the patio below to find rich, dark earth. If you want to hide your sins, the quickest solution would be a virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. The variety ‘Guy’s Garnet’ from Crûg Farm Plants in Wales turns a statement postbox red in autumn, even in deep shade.

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