Placement of climbing vine next to fence

(Question)

I have a wooden fence surrounding 2 of the 3 sides of my back garden. The third side is a chain-link fence that is mostly concealed by an evergreen hedge. The only part that is exposed is the last 5 feet or so from the back corner (southeast), which joins the wooden fence. In this corner is a locust tree. I would like to grow a leafy climber to cover the chain link fence and make the corner more beautiful. I would be fine with this climber extending onto the wooden fence, too. I like climbing hydrangeas and am considering one for this area since it is shady when the tree leafs out.
1. Climbing hydrangeas, although slow starters, can grow quite large. Is there a recommended variety for the relatively small area (the fence is approximately 3-4 feet tall in this area and the wooden fence 5-6 feet tall)? I’m hesitant about ivy, which I’ve read can get out of hand and bring various weevils and disease into the garden.
2. Where does one place a climbing plant horizontally next to a fence? At one far end to grow out/across to one side, or centred and then symmetrically trained left and right? Right now I have a rambling rose (that grows up the tree) planted in the ground in the small space between the tree and the corner where the fences meet.

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question regarding a climbing vine to cover a chain-link fence. You clearly have done your homework to prepare for this project.

Your preference for Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) will supply good coverage on both fences with both twiners and suction cups to adhere to the surfaces. There does not appear to be a small version of this most vigorous plant which would require diligent pruning to keep in bounds but its large and fragrant flowers and winter interest with a skiff of snow on the exfoliating bark are charming features which make the pruning worthwhile. The link below provides excellent information about growing this plant: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=d370

I would suggest placing the plant mid-way along the bare section of the chain-link fence, and initially securing the side shoots to the fence to encourage its horizontal spread. The spreading nature of the plant will soon fill your bare fence and grace it with large creamy blossoms.

We wish you great success with this project.