Exotic climbers

Think climbers and clematis, roses, sweet peas come to mind. But what about something more exotic? Discover more with this selection from plantsman Graham Rice

Jasminum angulareThe heavily sweet-scented white flowers of Jasminum angulare (left) have an impact beyond that of the hardy jasmines while the vigorous evergreen Mandevilla boliviensis, is easily manageable outside in a container. It has five-petalled, 7cm (3in) white flowers each with a rich orange throat.


Thunbergia mysorensisLapageria rosea, Chilean bellflower, twines to 2.5m (8ft) and its long narrow, flared flowers in deep rose pink hang in clusters. Grow in a partly shady site away from cold, drying winds.

Instead of old favourite Black-eyed Susan, Thunbergia alata, try T. mysorensis (right) with wisteria-like flowerheads, the red buds opening to red and yellow flowers. It’s ideal in the roof of a conservatory from where its glamorous flowers can swing.

Try them outside

The big bold heart-shaped leaves of Aristolochia macrophylla, (below right) up to 30cm (12in) long, are all you need for a subtropical look yet the plant is very hardy in our coldest winters; the speckled flowers are attractive too.

Mutisia ilicifolia looks exotic because the very idea of a climbing daisy is strange. Its pale lavender-pink daises set against holly-like leaves always capture attention as does the blue perennial pea, Lathyrus nervosus, with its rounded, blue-green leaves.

Aristolochia macrophyllaHardy perennial nasturtium, Tropaeolum tuberosum var. lineamaculatum ‘Ken Aslet’ is another climber and although not flamboyant, has an exotic air. It also comes with fat edible tubers that are popular in South America and found here in world-food stores.

Annuals can quickly create an exotic air, and Cobaea scandens, reaching 3m (10ft), clings to anything with its tendrils and with large purple bell-shaped flowers, easily. In sun and fertile soil it will produce hundreds of flowers.

Morning glories have a similar effect, and while the familiar Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ always captivates the more unexpected I. nil ‘Chocolate’, with trumpet flowers the colour of milk chocolate, looks like something from another planet instead of another climate.

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