Gardening: Spectacular campsis deserves betterBy Linda Fort
August 19, 2011
Plants in the garden often trigger a memory and this week one flowering climber is reminding me of holidays in Italy.
The plant is called Campsis x tagliabuana Madame Galenâ.
And I am now – having done some research – a little confused over the plant that I remember because the woman who grew it, Aunt Brenda, called it a bignonia.
However Grandma, who knew more about plants than anyone, told me it was really a campsis.
Confusingly, they are both sometimes called the trumpet vine, although the bignonia is also called the cross vine.
However, what I remember is a spectacular climbing plant with huge trumpet-shaped orange flowers.
And I was told if I tried to grow one it wouldn’t flower unless there was a lot of sun.
Mine is tucked away in the most unprepossessing corner imaginable, round by the side of the garage where it gets the sun from the east in the morning then slips into shade as the sun moves round to the south.
It is also behind the green garden waste bin.
I could hardly have treated it with less respect and yet it forgives me every year and rewards me with a fantastic display of huge flowers.
It has come through the last two winters without a murmur and its only drawback is that, in order to enjoy its glossy beauty, I have to go and visit it when it really should be tumbling over my front door, showing itself off to the neighbours.
If you would like to see one in all its glory, then drive along the A4 to Calcot and glance over to your right.
There is a magnificent specimen in a front garden right on the main road currently in full flower and growing like a tree.
The bignonia, or campsis, in Italy that I knew was trained over a brick arch in a parched hillside garden.
Aunt Brenda used to work her fingers to the bone trying to make an English lawn in Italy.
I recall helping her to weed out the plantains which were the only patches of green to be seen in the dusty yellow patch.
The bignonia, or campsis or whatever it was, was much more at home and thrived in the heat.
The good advice on my campsis hybrid is that you should grow it in full sun and allow lots of space.
The book says it needs the sun to ripen the wood for flowering next year. It doesn’t mind being pruned.
My experience is that classy campsis may be more accommodating than that.
Why not plant it with a blue caryopteris at its feet for a colour combination that will knock you socks off.
I would, but the compost bin is in the way.