Ewen's garden

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

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The charms of dusk

Recently I was asked about how to combat morning glory, Ipomoea learii a common weed in many parts of the island. My advice was as follows; firstly clear as much of the vine as possible physically. Once this is done allow it to start regrowing and when it is in the flush of regrowth spray it with a systemic herbicicde, that is one that circulates to all parts of the plant. Hopefully in this way you will have success in killing this rampant vine. Letting the vine begin to regrow means the poison will be more successfully translocated to all parts of the plant.

Alternatively for those who do not wish to use poisons I would suggest removing as much of the vine as possible, at least this will allow any existing desirable plants a chance of re-establishing themselves. A follow up to this treatment would be the placement of impenetrable mulch such as old carpet, following which eternal vigilance is necessary to over come such a pest.

There are two other members of this genus which are not of an invasive nature. Firstly is powhiwhi, Ipomoea palmate syn.I.cairirca, as I have mentioned in my last column, a vine with purple flowers and as the name suggests palmate leaves. This vine is naturalised in Northland and it is uncertain whether it was introduced by the early Maori or whether it is naturally indigenous to these parts. Either way I am happy to have it in my garden. The other is the moon flower, Ipomoea alba syn. Calonuction aculeatum, C. bona-nox, I. noctiflora. This climber, a perennial, has large 10cm wide white flowers with most delicious scent. They open their blooms at dusk, an intriguing event to witness as the buds swell and burst open before your very eyes. This will be planted in my scented garden next to a seat where the spectacle can easily be experienced. Plants can be easily propagated from seed. I once had one grown in a pot on a balcony where it was a star performer.

Another white night scented and flowering plant is the orchid cactus Epyphyllum oxypetalum ‘Belle de Nuit’. As its name suggests it unfurls its flowers at dusk to release its scent for many metres around. The flowers are creamy white with sometimes a hint of pink. The leaves are modified into tiny spines and the stems flattened and leaf like. In their natural habitat of Central America they are largely epiphytic, growing on other trees and shrubs. They are therefore suitable plants for pots or hanging baskets where in the latter the stems will tend to bend downwards as if to afford the viewer a better vantage point. How I am anticipating the warm summer evenings in my night scented garden!

Now just a brief pedantic note about the attention to detail the BBC goes to with its dramas. In their collaboration with HBO on the drama ‘Rome’ I noticed a flaw in the use of plants in Atia’s atrium, There were specimens of both lobster claw, Heliconia sp. and Philodendron sp., both of which come from Latin America, were the Romans really the first to the Americas? Never mind I am enjoying the series anyway!


Post a Comment

<< Home