Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Growing passion

Passionfruit mostly brings to mind the aromatic fruit topping of that national icon, the pavlova and of course this would be correct. The Passionfruit or granadilla is the product of a lush growing vine Passiflora edulis which, along with all other passion vines, come largely from South America. The name of the passion vines comes from the early missionaries to South America who likened the parts of the flower to the implements of the crucifixion, the three stigmas representing the three nails and the filaments the crown of thorns for example.
Whilst P. edulis is the one we are most commonly aware of, there are in fact over 300 species in this genus, many of which not only have lovely fruit but also attractive flowers. A recent addition to my garden has been sweet granadilla P. ligularis syn. P. lowerei discovered in Peru in 1819. This vine is vigorous with heart shaped leaves, flowers of white petals and filaments banded in white and purple stripes produced from autumn to winter and scented strongly of vanilla. The fruit comes ripe in the spring and is edible, making a good alternative to P. edulis which produces its fruit in the autumn. Having only had this vine just over a month, it has already put on about 20 cm of growth! I plan to grow it up the fence and then create an arbour across a seat in the corner of the top terrace of my garden.
Another recent acquisition is red banana passionfruit, P. antioquensis syn. P. van volxemii syn. Tacsonia van volxemii, a very attractive vine producing pendulous cerise flowers followed by delicious fruit. I have planted mine with the intention of it climbing over an arch across the steps up onto the terrace, this way the flowers and fruit should hang down and be easily viewed from beneath. Both P. ligularis and P. antioquensis require a warm spot to thrive and produce fruit. However one species that is quite hardy is P. x caeruleo-racemosa ‘Eynsford Gem’ syn. ‘Lilac lady’ this non fruiting cultivar is naturally of garden origin, ‘Eynsford Gem’ being a sport of the hybrid cross between P. caerulea and P. racemosa. I recall this vine from my mother’s garden on the farm in the lower Wairarapa where it certainly endured harsher growing conditions than here. It produces lilac coloured blooms on a back ground of dark green glossy, deeply divided leaves. The buds are also rather purple in colour adding to the overall effect. I don’t as yet have a plant of this one but hope my mother will soon be able to produce a small plant from hers currently growing on the wall of my parents house in Masterton. Another spectacular ornamental passion vine is scarlet passion flower or red granadilla, P. coccinea syn. P. fulgens syn. P. velutina, from tropical America, produces the most brilliant clear red flowers. I have only seen this flower once when I first gardened here on the island and had a plant myself, which suffered from abject neglect on my part and died from lack of water! The fruit of this species is also edible. Another passionfruit available is the giant granadilla P. quadrangularis from tropical America, is a large and vigorous vine with large, up to 20cm round, edible fruit.
Last but not insignificant is the banana passionfruit P. mollisima which in this climate is really a weed. I do remember though our neighbours when I was young had a large vine of which we were often given bags of delicious fruit. Now all I have to do is plant my specimen of the common passionfruit P. edulis, and await the fruits of my labours.

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At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen Asparagus this BIG
They grow up to 15in long and 2in wide.
butterfly gardening

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

on the farm, my Dad used to dig a trench two feet deep and half fill with cow manure, topping off with good farm loam. After resting it for three months he planted the vines. We had HUGE fruit in the days before huge fruit were in fashion. He renewed his vines every three years, cheers,Peg


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