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Favourite Climbers in our Garden on the Costa Blanca

by Carol Hawes
photographs by Carol Hawes

Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No 76, April 2014

Carol Hawes describes some of the climbing plants she and her husband grow in their (almost frost-free) garden in south-east Spain and remembers where she first saw them. In the early 1990s on visits to Australia and Singapore her eyes were opened to the exciting planting opportunities available to gardeners whose ambitions are not limited by winter frosts.

Some years later, while staying in Menton, they visited the Hanbury Botanic Garden at La Mortola and were stunned by the sight of tall terrace walls completely covered by the evergreen leaves and red-purple trumpet flowers of Amphilophium buccinatorium. (Amphilophium laxiflorum is also well worth growing for its clusters of mauve flowers which gradually fade to white as they age.)

Amphilophium buccinatorium

Amphilophium laxiflorum

Carol saw Podranea ricasoliana for the first time in the garden of ‘Sitio Litre’ in Puerto de la Cruz, on Tenerife, and added it to her ‘wanted’ list. The closely-related Australian Pandorea jasminoides also does well for her.

Podranea ricasoliana

A white-flowered form of Podranea.

Pandorea jasminoides

From Australia too are members of the genus Hardenbergia, with evergreen leaves and pendant racemes of pretty pea-like flowers. Hardenbergia violacea has proved to be very tough and drought-tolerant in Carol’s garden, producing its dark purple flowers in winter. She also has a white-flowered form grown from seed. This, however, needs tying to a trellis as it doesn’t climb or twine like the purple-flowered species.

violacea f. alba

Carol notes: “It is very rewarding to grow several climbers of different growth habits along the same framework, so that there is almost always something in flower, and the flower forms and colours complement each other. Here, I have the white Podranea, pale pink Pandorea, the white Hardenbergia and Jasminum grandiflorum mixing happily on a screen formed from bamboo canes and wires. Some of the visitors who come to our garden are keen to know the names of plants that they have never seen before, and hope to find specimens for their gardens. I wonder if any of them will ever say ‘I remember where I first saw this plant ….’.”
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