GARDENING: Six climbers to give your fence some flair

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GOT acres of bare fence to cover? Or do you fancy an exotic look to your summer garden?

Either way, my top six exotic climbers will do the job. They’re all perennials in their tropical homes and can be overwintered under glass with care, but they’re so fast growing, it’s easier to grow them from seed.

All of them can reach 10ft (3m) in a season, so mind where you plant them.

Five of mine came from Mr Fothergill’s Mixed Climbers Collection (£4.69, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk), six varieties - Cardinal Climber, Morning Glory Grandpa Otts, Chilean Glory Vine, Spanish Flag, Hyacinth Bean and sweet pea Horizon Mixed (not included here - check out my sweet pea page online).

The sixth is Cobaea scandens, the cup and saucer vine, which I grew from seed last year and overwintered.

Sown on March 6, several had germinated in the propagator in two-three days.

1. Cardinal Climber (Ipomoea quamoclit). Intense scarlet flowers open out into small funnels, fern-like foliage turns purple in late summer. Harmful if eaten.

2. Spanish Flag (Ipomoea lobata syn. Mina lobata). Masses of exotic, tubular flowers in shades of crimson to lemon on arching stems. Foliage turns purple in late summer.

3. Morning Glory Grandpa Otts (Ipomoea purpurea). Intense violet-blue flowers marked with a vivid, ruby ‘star’. Fast growing with a long flowering season. Harmful if eaten.

4. Cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens). Graceful, fast growing climber with 7cm (3in) bell-shaped flowers changing from green to deep purple.

5. Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lab lab). Twining vine with leaflets in threes and showy, fragrant bright pink/purple pea-like flowers and pods. Attractive to pollinators. The pods are flat and curved, about 3in (7.6 cm) long and bright purple.

6. Chilean glory flower (Eccremocarpus scaber). A fast-growing, evergreen perennial climber that can be grown as an annual. Clinging by tendrils, it has pinnate leaves and terminal clusters of tubular, reddish-orange flowers 2.5cm in length, from late spring to autumn.