Renovating the struggling climbers was my first challenge with the terrace. Untended for some time before our arrival, the plants were all competing for meagre resources of light, water and nutrients. The strong-growing and drought resistant star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) had formed dense bushes of evergreen leaves at the top of the wire work and was well on the way to shading out the other species, as well as it’s own lower shoots. A single plant of star jasmine (also known as false jasmine) can grow to 6m in height and 3m in width. We inherited six of them, clearly planted for quick results. In early summer they are smothered in sweetly scented white flowers, but you can have too much of a good thing. A heavy pruning of the top growth encouraged new shoots from lower down the bare stems. Regular trimming back of the new growth stimulated side branches, and stopped the Trachelospermum from smothering the other climbers that were starting to regrow too.
This picture isn’t the Trachelospermum but one of the other survivors, the evergreen Clematis armandii. It only managed one small cluster of flowers last spring but now (in March 2015) it’s got enough buds for quite a show. Here are the first few flowers to open, clean and fresh on a rainy day.