Ewen's garden

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

Monday, November 01, 2004


Spring is moving on, so too is the growth of plants and nowhere is this more evident than the vines now festooning themselves across the front rail of our deck. My favourite of these is the Mexican blood flower Distictis buccinatoria, syn. Phaedranthus buccinatoria the common name being rather gory for such a showy plant. As the name suggests this vine is native to Mexico, where it was discovered in 1824, (or at least first botanically noted). It sports not only wonderful red blooms, yellow at the base, up to 5cm in length, but also bold glossy foliage. The leaves forming a great foil for these attractive flowers. The vine does best when planted in a location with the benefit of all day sun.

Another vine competing for space on the deck rail is the bower vine Pandorea jasminoides ‘Rosea Superba’ which bright pink flowers with a much darker throat. The foliage is dark glossy green and quite handsome, but I think I prefer the tubular blooms of Mexican blood flower. Maybe one day I will let the Mexican have full reign of the deck as pink is not one of my favourite colours. It would seem odd to have a plant that doesn’t really fit my taste, but as is often the case I inherited this vine when we bought the property. In the meantime the bower vine gets the stay of execution because it is providing shelter on the deck.

Whilst most things in the garden are going ahead in leaps and bounds, many of the subtropicals are looking a little worse for wear after being savaged by the spring gales. In particular at present I am thinking of my bananas Musa sp. and gingers Heliconia subulata (no relation to the weed ginger Hedychium gardnerianum) This season I really must get more shelter planted along the westerly boundary to try and negate the howling sou’westers and westerlies that belt in. It is a pity because right now the H. subulata are sending up their flower spikes amid a collection of ratty old leaves instead of lush bright green foliage. Still I can pick the blooms and bring them inside where they should last for weeks. There they will keep company with the orchid flowers of one of my Cymbidium sp. which also lasts for weeks when cut.

Well for now that just leaves me to remind everyone about the Waiheke Retravision Jassy Dean Trust garden Safari coming up on Sunday November 14. I am sure there will be something for everyone who has any interest in gardening and well worth taking the time to explore gardens and places otherwise not seen.


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