Reliable and hardy, the virtues of Glasnevin vine
Home & Garden

Reliable and hardy, the virtues of Glasnevin vine

EXCEPT for unprotected bamboo stakes, wonky ladders, and irregular paving, gardening is a relaxation in the main, an occupation which has little to offer those seeking excitement or danger.

There is an order to gardening, one of contemplative mood and atmosphere, of miracles repeated week after week, and no one who works with the soil would argue with this or have it any other way.

That said, it is inspiring in July to stand in a plot which contains a selection of blooms to delight virtually all the senses.

I stood days ago in a local garden admiring a climbing plant from South America called Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’.

Such a prosaic name does little justice for a plant that produces massed deep violet flowers, each one enlivened with bright yellow central pointed stamens over many, many months.

It is also available in a stunning white form.

Solanum is a vigorous scrambling shrub, which in mild areas, can be allowed to cover a shed or fence, but it also lends itself well to wall-training to make a sheet of long-lasting colour.

On open sites (and in many cases on heavy clay soil) this evergreen plant puts on a magnificent display beginning in late April and continuing (in many cases) to the end of October.

And that, despite poor growing conditions some years.

A clone from its South American ancestors was introduced by the Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin just before the First World War and it was aptly called Glasnevin.

Indeed, Glasnevin would look and behave happiest on a wall, or failing this, a fence or ornamental trellis (provided these are tall enough) to accommodate its fast-growing shoots.

Alternatively, the plant could be used to divide areas of an ornamental garden from either the kitchen garden or greenhouse and compost heap. As it grows, some of the very vigorous shoots will need to be restricted with secateurs or tied in carefully to the supporting framework.

Overly tall shoots which have grown away and become something of a thicket can be reduced to within inches of soil level if need be.

Be assured that Solanum crispum will send out new, vigorous shoots from below the cut surfaces.

Both Solanum crispum and S. crispum Glasnevin are reliably hardy, the latter form being particularly so.

In warmer counties it would be worth growing S. jasminoides for its flowers are pale blue rather than violet, or for the gardener with a particular colour scheme in mind the variety S. Album (which I rate highly for its pure white blooms) might be the one to choose.

Any reasonable soil will suit all the varieties mentioned and should some cutting back be needed then look to this during the month of March as strong new growth commences.