Discover Garden Climbers

Written by T. S. Srinivasa

Photographs by Karthikeyan S.


The ‘Discover’ series of pocket guides is intended to provide practical field identification information on common life forms, in an easy-to-use format and at an affordable cost. The first book of the series, ‘Discover Avenue Trees’, has been well received with a second print run this year. This book, ‘Discover Garden Climbers’, is the second in the series, and focuses on the ornamental climbers commonly grown in parks and gardens.

About the Book

Climbers have been a part of home gardens, public parks and private gardens since time immemorial. With the advent of seafaring voyages in the middle ages, climbers from different parts of the world were introduced into gardens based on their ornamental value or economic importance. Pepper, the king of spices and at times valued more than gold, led to wars, conquests, colonisation, slavery and even the sale and exchange of territories.

In the Indian context, climbers were also grown as a source of flowers for worship and adornment. Until a few years ago, Jasmine, Malati, and other flowering climbers were a common sight in most neighbourhoods, their fragrance pervading the late evening and early morning air. Backyards and open spaces would have gourds, pumpkins, varieties of beans, and passion fruit, with a fresh harvest almost every day.

Gardeners all over the world prize climbers for their beauty, form, flowers and fragrances. Climbers complement trees in urban gardens, providing niches, nectar and fruits to a variety of wildlife. Unbridled growth and rapid urbanisation over the last two decades has led to the loss and shrinkage of available public and private garden spaces, with little room for planting trees or shrubs. Climbers, with their limited ground area requirements and vertical growth, and a wide repertoire of forms, flower shapes and colours, are well suited for even the narrowest of spaces, and an obvious choice for urban gardens.

While trees have had enough focus in terms of publications, some of the smaller plants including the subject of this book, have often been ignored. In fact, there have been no new books on creepers, climbers and vines since the last 60 years in India! This publication is meant to fill that void and provide information on common ornamental climbers, which are suitable for both large gardens as well as small spaces. It covers 65 species of vines, each with colourful images and information of popular interest. There are also nuggets of natural history observations made by the author.

The emphasis is on informal, quick and easy identification of climber species in gardens as well as their use in aesthetics and landscaping. The book is meant to encourage people to look at the fascinating world of climbers, learn more about them, and grow them as well. We hope that it will contribute in a small way to protect and enhance the greenery around us, amidst the relentless urban onslaught.

About the Author

T.S. Srinivasa has been involved with wildlife and education for almost three decades. He has authored reports and papers in scientific journals, and been part of various committees involved in biodiversity research and conservation.

He has been involved in censuses and surveys in wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas, and has been instrumental in mapping biodiversity checklists for some of the lesser-known protected areas in our region. He is also well traveled and has visited almost all the tropical rainforests in the world. He has been involved with various groups and is the co-founder of EcoEdu, an environment education startup. He is a structural engineer by profession and specialises in designing oil rigs. He has done his Masters in Engineering from Bangalore University.


The handy book (A6 size) can be purchased from the publisher, Ecoedu, on their website.