Celebrate with climbers

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Ipomea Sally

Planning a party in the garden? Order the champagne, pick bowls of flowers and invite your neighbours around for the festivities.
Lemon Verbena scented candles will keep away any unwelcome wasps and the perfume is not unpleasant. Multi-coloured candles will add to the festive feeling and glass balls dropping down from tall, hooked stakes could contain long-lasting solar lights for the evening.
The table could be approached along an arbour, a walkway – draped in climbers with pots of brilliant red Pelargoniums, Tobacco plants (Nicotiana) and dahlias rowed along the base for extra colour. Lots of annual climbers would cover the structure within a season. Ipomoea, Cobaea and Thunbergia are all easy to grow and available from garden centres and online, and many are already well on their way to covering any structure with glorious colour.
Ipomoea has electric-blue/purple flowers which positively sparkle in the sun. They appreciate a rich, draining soil and will need to be ‘shown the way’ as they climb, before their twining leaves hook around the pergola’s upright posts. The flowers may resemble an exotic bindweed but the resemblance is skin deep. They are very well-behaved. And they have pizzaz!
Thunbergia alata is also known as ‘Black-eyed Susie’. They are no relation to ‘Black Eyed Susans’, Rudbeckia hirta, which are a member of the Aster family with daisy-type flowers. A warning to those who prefer popular names!. The original species, Thunbergia alata, has golden yellow flowers with jet-black central spots and easily grows to about a metre within one season, then fades away. Recently plant breeders have produced new seed strains – T. alata ‘Sunny Susy’ which has more orange in its colouring, and T. alata ‘African Sunset’ which has paler coral-pink flowers.
And the last of the trio, Cobea scandens, bears large bell-shaped bonnets like the Queen Mum’s hats, in shades of pink and blue all summer long. They are vigorous and lusty, and all look magnificent covering a pergola. They would certainly celebrate a Platinum Jubilee in style.

by Sally Gregson

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