For one thing, they provide winter interest. Just now, you'll have to use your imagination, but this close-up shows how the cinnamon colored branches might catch the eye when bare. Also, the thicker vines tend to exfoliate in fascinating ways. When mature, the branches may even provide a little woody coverage all by themselves.
They are not self-clinging; you have to train them when the new growth is soft and flexible. I was assured this would work on a chain-link fence in any case.
I don't have any experience with hydrangeas, but the worst problem I can think of is that they are very slow to start. It could take years to get good coverage.
|Photo taken around June 1st|
Each small plant costs $15-$50, which could be another problem if you have a huge fence. But think...my (very cheap) morning glory is still at most 1 foot high, and it's June 17th. This climbing hydrangea has been lush and full for weeks.
Because of its slow growth, this is not a plant for those in a temporary space. But if your more permanent gardening area features chain-link, and you don't mind fussing a bit, you'll probably be pleased with this in no time. For gardeners, time flies anyway (no matter how impatient we are). I also think those big heart shaped leaves would contrast superbly with the small square pattern of chain-link.