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Design Sleuth: What to Grow on a Brick Wall


Design Sleuth: What to Grow on a Brick Wall

July 12, 2012

English walls of sandstone or ironstone are very covetable: they are a perfect warm-neutral backdrop for anything that grows. But for those of us who live with brick, life is a bit more complicated.

An old walled garden with mellowed bricks is generally flattering to anything (with the exception of bright red, arguably). Some types of new brick may never calm down though, in which case by all means smother and cover. But with traditionally made bricks—whether old, new, yellow, red, sooty, or clean—let them show through.

Photographs by Kendra Wilson, for Gardenista.

Above: Pale colors seem to work: cream, shell pink, butter yellow. A one-gallon pot of Yellow Jasmine Vine is $18.95 from Brighter Blooms.

Above: Climbers should be well-pruned so that they provide a traceable network over a wall. Pale pink rose New Dawn has no quarrel with old red brick. A New Dawn Rose is $17.50 from Heirloom Roses. In the UK Peter Beale sells New Dawn in a container for £18.95, and bare root (from November) for £13.95.

Above: Maintained wisteria allows the brick to show through, as it drapes itself about elegantly. A one-gallon pot of White Wisteria Vine is $24.95 from Brighter Blooms.

Above: Pale, neutral viburnum is espaliered here to mimic a climber. Its early appearance in spring gives a promise of what is to come even when there is not much happening at its feet. A Viburnum Farreri Nanum, shipped for fall planting, is $26.95 from White Flower Farm. In the UK, a wide selection of viburnums including v.opulus Roseum is available from Burncoose Nurseries, from about £8.

Above: The law does not state that flowers require a traditional green backdrop. Foxgloves and brick are on the same side of the color wheel. A four-inch pot of Digitalis x Mertonensis, available seasonally, is $6.95 from Annie’s Annuals. In the UK a selection of foxgloves including the above is available from Pioneer Nurseries, priced from £3 to £5.50.

Above: The wall in the distance is just as effective as a wall close by for these ‘Northern Lights’ leeks. Supplied by Moles in the UK, 250 seeds for £3.70. A packet of 140 seeds of Hannibal Organic Leek is $3.95 from Burpee.

Above: Espaliers were invented to clothe brick and they look especially brilliant with spring blossoms and autumn fruit. Not forgetting their winter structure and summer greenery. For more about caring for espaliers, see “Espalier in the Winter Garden.”

N.B.: Looking for more garden inspiration? For 244 images of Flowers, see our Gallery.

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