19 November 2009
in my cups
Growing up the wall at the front of the garden is a Cobaea scandens, The Cup and Saucer Vine (turn an open flower upside down and the name does make sense). This was grown from seed three years ago and has over-wintered with no added protection ever since. Introduced from Brazil it is tender and rarely survives the winter outside, it is usually grown as an annual when, sown in early May, it will quickly grow to twenty feet and be covered with flowers in a few summer months. Here as the weather warms in spring, despite being cut back by cold and by me, the plant re-grows rampantly to cover the whole wall and send strangely rubbery vines twenty feet up into neighbouring trees. I am glad it is held in check by the winter, it must be an awful weed in the tropics.
It has a long season of flower and continues until the weather is grim enough to damage the buds. The flowers are interesting in all stages of growth, from the first origami buds,
that swell to open,
first soft luminous green
then porcelain shell shades
until the colour deepens
and it finishes dark and dusky.
The funereal shade of the mature flower doesn't really stand out in the garden and, despite being continually in flower, there is never a great mass of them out at any one time. I much prefer the white colour variant 'Alba'. I grew this from seed last year and it was much nicer, its green to white progression of bells stood out from a distance and looked fantastic intermingling with the small flowered white clematis 'Summer Snow' (one of my favourite Clematis). Despite my favour it turned up it's toes in the cold and promptly died. Which is often the way of it.