Gardening / Purple patch for unloved native climber

Hardenbergia violacea… brightening up Hindmarsh Drive.

MOTORISTS roaring along Hindmarsh Drive at Red Hill may not notice a great native climber that seems to have gone out of fashion.

Cedric Bryant.

The mass of purple on the left-hand bank towards Fyshwick is Hardenbergia violacea “Happy Wanderer”, in this instance used as a ground cover. Equally, it makes a great climber, traditionally used to grow over and disguise the outside dunny. It looks great on a trellis to screen that ugly, next-door shed.

A hardy evergreen, it grows three to five metres tall with a similar spread and  mass of violet flowers. There is also a white-flowering variety.

A smaller version is H.v. “Minnehaha” bred originally by an American nursery and readily available here. Growing to just one metre by one metre, it would be perfect on a frame on a townhouse balcony.

Clematis armandii… ideal to disguise a water tank.

OFTEN mistaken as a native climber, the evergreen Clematis armandii is in fact a native of China and, when in flower, appears to be covered in snow, hence one variety is called C.a. “Snowdrift”.

Named after Jesuit missionary and plant collector in China Armand David (1826-1900), it’s a vigorous climber, as can be seen with the photograph I took a couple of weeks ago at Heritage Nursery. It can grow up to six metres with a similar spread, making it ideal to disguise a water tank.

I HAVE brought back some selected seeds from a recent visit to the UK. Importantly, I declared them at quarantine. There was no problem as they were from worldwide seed company Thompson and Morgan and in their original packets with the full botanical name.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some people hide seeds in luggage or think it’s okay to bring in seeds, maybe gathered from a friend’s garden.

Along with NZ, we have some of the toughest quarantine regulations in the world and rightly so. Anyone in doubt about bringing seeds or plant material into the country should declare them. Environmental and noxious weeds snuck into the country over the years have cost our agricultural industry dearly.

THERE are two major pest problems that affect trees that must be kept out of Australia at all costs.

The first is Dutch elm disease. The beetle that spreads the disease is now in Australia, but not the disease itself. It has destroyed more than 15 million elm trees in Britain alone.

The second is a new disease in Europe that’s affecting ash trees to the extent that 95 per cent of Britain’s 80-90 million ash trees are predicted to be wiped out by fungal ash dieback disease combined with the emerald ash borer beetle. This beetle is native to Asia and could get into Australia, for example via wooden packing cases.

It would be disastrous if the elm or ash tree problems got here, which is why the work of the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service is vital.


  • The Horticultural Society’s outstanding, annual Iris, Rhododendron and Azalea Show will be held at the Wesley Church Centre, National Circuit, Forrest, noon-5pm on Saturday, October 28, and 11.30am-3.45pm the following day. Entry by donation.
  • My last column featured the new dwarf clematis that grows to only about a metre tall. Some readers have wondered if the flowers were also smaller. No, only the growth is dwarf, the flowers are full size.
  • Time to plant dahlia and potato tubers.
  • Use Velcro re-usable plant tape to train clematis on wires or lattice before it gets out of control. Available from most garden centres.
  • There’s a full range of Diggers Seeds available at Heritage Nursery, Yarralumla.


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