Collectibles from Peta Trahar's richly planted garden at Woodgreen

29 Jan 2015

A Dainty Desirable Climber

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A Dainty Desirable Climber

Text and photos Peta Trahar


How many of you have planted an innocent looking climber only to find that it morphs into a rampant monster smothering all before its path and even threatening to pull down the balcony? No so with my dainty, somewhat ethereal Purple Bell Vine or Rhodochiton sanguineus.


I’ve been aware of this pretty climber for years but strangely there is not a lot of information available about it. It was introduced into general cultivation via seed collected in 1829 from plants growing in virtually inaccessible Mexican and Guatemalan mountains. In this native habitat, Rhodochiton climbs gently through shrubs and trees, using fine curling and twisting petioles. It will trail too, useful if gardeners want to plant it in hanging baskets or raised containers.


Visitors to my garden who spot the Purple Bell Vine travelling amongst camellias in semi shade, MUST HAVE IT. Its string of solitary flowers dangle on wiry long stalks rather like a collection of earrings. Each bloom resembles a rose coloured parasol with a dark purple elongated corolla attached underneath. In warm climates Rhodochiton is perennial, developing a woody base. Should your climate be frosty you can still grow the vine, however it will act as an annual, meaning seed will need to be collected yearly from the decorative, round, paper-like seed cases. Germination rate is good. Treasure it because very few nurseries stock it. Mine came from Libby Raines’ interesting little nursery within “Merrygarth”, her very beautiful Mt Wilson garden.


Hunting for rare plants is both rewarding and fun. Do pencil in the 10th Collectors’ Plant Fair, 11 and 12 April, 2015 to be held at the Hawkesbury Race Club, Clarendon, NSW. There will be 60 specialist nurseries assembled from several Australian states. You never know what amazing things you’ll bring home. Indeed the event has a well earned reputation as, “Australia’s Treasured Garden Event”.


Peta Trahar MAIH MAILDM contributes regularly to “Our Gardens”

Peta is also convenor of the 10th Collectors’ Plant Fair, 11/12 April 2015

Walk peacefully, smell the roses and be touched by the hand of Nature
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