Passiflora (Passion flower) is a dramatic climber that has flowers into the autumn. Most of the passion flower species come from the tropical regions of the world and are classified as tender plants so they will not survive frosts. The tender species need a warm glasshouse to survive.
The hardier species may be grown outdoor in well-drained, moderately fertile soil in full sun with shelter from cold winds. They grow rapidly each year using their tendrils to attach themselves to supports or to climb up through a tree or shrub. Passiflora caerulea (Blue passion flower) is one of the hardier species that is commonly grown in this country. It can be evergreen in mild winters, in very cold winters it will die down to ground level but new shoots will emerge from the base in spring. It is a very vigorous climber that has a reach and spread of 20 feet or more when grown in favourable conditions. It produces large saucer-shaped flowers with creamy white petals and a ring of blue and purple filaments. It will flower from late summer if the weather has been warm. After the flower it produces large orange fruit which are edible but do not have an outstanding flavour.
This is another late flowering climber that comes from China. It is a spreading evergreen shrub, with arching branches that can be trained into a very nice climber. It has spiny, glossy dark green leaves like holly leaves. It produces an abundance of narrow, pendulous, catkin-like flowers that can be up to 12 inches long. The individual flowers are tiny and densely packed, greenish-white in colour. The flowers are produced from late summer to early autumn. The flowers are fragrant with a hint of honey scent. It likes a fertile, moist but well drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Plant in the spring. If grown in full sun the soil needs to be moist. In cold or exposed gardens it needs shelter from cold winds.
The flowers on cyclamen can be produced at any time of the year depending upon the variety. The pretty, pink or white flowers and attractive foliage makes a charming sight in a shaded rock garden, under a tree or around the base of a shrub. Most of them flower early in the year, while others wait until late summer and autumn. The leaves have a lovely shape and are often beautifully marked. They will grow in almost any well-drained soil in a shady position. Since many of them come from woodlands, the soil must contain sufficient humus. Plant the tubers in late summer and early autumn. The tubers do not divide or produce offsets, cyclamen propagate themselves rapidly by self seeding. Seedlings usually flower after two years. Cyclamen hederifolium is a hardy variety that produces white or pink flowers on stems, 4 inches, tall in the autumn. The leaves are variegated with a marble effect and appear only after the flowers have disappeared. They will last through the winter into spring. When planting barely cover the tubers with soil and add a layer of leafmould each year after flowering.
Jobs for the week
In the greenhouse, plants like tomatoes, peppers, chillies and cucumbers will continue to produce a plentiful of fruit. Removing the ripe fruit will encourage the green fruit to ripen. Stop feeding pot plants, except winter-flowering plants such as cyclamen and chrysanthemums. Pot up hyacinths for Christmas.
In the vegetable garden lift onions and garlic, allow the foliage to die back and dry them off in a shed.
Collect seeds of your favourite perennials and store them in a dry place. The seeds of some plants such as myosotidium, dierama and lychnis can be sown fresh after collection to germinate next spring.
Collect leaves that have fallen, using a wire rake and place them in plastic bags with holes in the sides. These leaves will break down over the next twelve months to produce very valuable leaf-mould.
Garden Club Notices
Limerick Garden Plants Group. The AGM of this group takes place on Thursday 26th September at 7.30pm in the South Court Hotel Raheen. Seamus O’Brien will give a talk titled “In Search of Good Garden Plants”. Members €3 euro/non-members €8.