AFTER many years of springs with rain, snow and sleet, we must have all appreciated the sunshine during the last few weeks.

It's great to hear so many lawn mowers whirring, so many cars in the garden centre car park, and of course customers loading them up with plants!

It's interesting that climbing plants figure very highly on customers' shopping lists this year.

This made me wonder, are we suddenly wanting to screen ourselves from prying eyes?

No, I think not, for it appears that as gardens are getting smaller we are turning our attentions towards using walls and fences for bringing even more colour to our plots.

The secret of getting a good display from climbing plants is pretty much like anything else, be sure to choose the right plant for the right spot. Conditions will vary enormously depending on the wall's orientation.

A wall facing north for example, will receive little to no direct sunlight.

It will also be exposed to cold winds, so therefore doesn't make the ideal home for anything tender or a flowering plant requiring sunlight to encourage blooms. North facing walls are a haven, however, for lovers of cool shade, and many foliage plants fall into this category.

Climbing plants such as ivy that cling by aerial roots will thrive here.

East-facing walls will receive sunlight in the morning, and plants won't have to endure fierce midday sun for very long.

Cold winds will still be a factor, so choose plants accordingly.

A number of varieties of clematis will feel quite at home here, including the vigorous early flowering Montana species which will soon be in full bloom.

It's even possible to grow a number of climbing roses here too, but be sure to choose a variety recommended for this position. Flowering quince (Chaenomeles) is one of my favourites; a shrub that can easily be trained against a wall to enjoy its cheerful blooms.

South-facing walls in theory receive maximum sunlight, mostly when it's at its most intense.

Here is the opportunity to enjoy something tender and exotic. Fruiting plants are a great way to get the most from this position, both edible ones such as peaches and cherries, but decorative ones too such as passion flowers, Chinese gooseberry and the curiously formed akebia.

Finally west walls, which like the east will receive sunshine for part of the day. They will be warmer than the east, and winds shouldn't be so cold either.

Most flowering plants suitable for south walls will find a happy home here too, while there may not be enough sun and warmth to ripen many fruits. Climbing roses will thrive here.