Brighten a bare wall for Spring

Ceanothus 'Italian Skies'

Ceanothus 'Italian Skies'

Karen Murphy explains how to brighten up a dull wall with these five early-flowering beauties

 1 Chaenomeles ‘Geisha Girl’

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Ideal for a shady north or cold east-facing wall, this flowering quince produces lots of pastel apricot-pink flowers just as the leaves unfurl. Suits any soil as long as it's not constantly wet.
Tip: Prune off any forward-facing shoots to develop ideal fan shape

 2 Stachyurus sinensis

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Spreading shrub with arching dark-red shoots producing stiff, pendulous spikes of soft yellow flowers in April. Site in sun or partial shade in soils that don’t dry out in summer.
Tip: Prune back new shoots by half after flowering once the shrub fills space

3 Forsythia suspensa ‘Nymans’

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Excellent form of the familiar forsythia with slender, weeping shoots that are ideal for training against a framework on a wall or fence. Any soil in sun or partial shade.
Tip: Thin out wispy shoots and tie in strongest to framework

 4 Coronilla valentina ‘Citrina’


Long-flowered shrub with blue-green pea-leaves, and sweetly scented flowers from December to April. Fragile shoots need careful training. Sunny, well-drained soil in shelter.
Tip: Grow next to a doorway to benefit from its gorgeous fragrance

5 Ceanothus ‘Italian Skies’

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Spectacular display of bright blue blossom in late March and April set against a curtain of glossy rich green leaves. Prefers neutral to alkaline well-drained soil in sun. Easily clipped.
Tip: Combine with summer clematis for a second season of interest

Planting tips
Dig your hole about 30cm (12in) away from the wall or fence, to ensure the climber gets plenty of moisture. Unless your plant is self-supporting, you will need a trellis or a network of wires to train the shrub against the wall.