Muehlenbeckia complexa (Maidenhair Vine)
It’ll grow anywhere – sun, shade or on the beach (very salt resistant). It can be used as a twining climber, a scrambler through bushes or as ground cover or for topiary – it makes lovely mounds. Or Living Walls. Severe cold will cut it back to the base – no bad thing with such a rampant plant. Always re-shoots. The flowers are minute and green. They are freely produced – which becomes more apparent in the autumn, when the plant will be smothered in tiny white/translucent bell shaped waxy seeds. Best for fairly mild gardens. Many years ago the cliff above the garden between Torquay Marina and Corbyn Beach was covered in Muehlenbeckia – about 2 vertical acres of the stuff. It’s probably still there. One of those wonderful plants that offer so many possibilities that the limit is only that of your imagination.
Propagated by us from cuttings – originally from Tresco Abbey Garden in the Isles of Scilly.
There’s a group of vigorous scrambling/climbing plants from New Zealand (this is one of them) that the Kiwis – exhibiting their characteristic combination of wit and cynicism – refer to as ‘Bush Lawyers’. Why? Something along the lines of : “They’re easy to walk into but once you’re stuck in the middle of a clump, just try extracting yourself”. Something like that. Evidently the lawyers in NZ are not as soft, pink and fluffy as our lovely variety back here in the Mother Land. They also have a plant they call the ‘Bushman’s Friend’. The Latin name of the plant is Brachyglottis repanda and the leaves are tough and thick and large and evergreen and the explanation for the common name is scatological and is associated with being caught short on a long country walk. Work it out. The plant is also known (rather boringly) as ‘The Maori Postcard Tree’. It’s so tough you could write on it, stick a stamp on it and pop it in a postbox. Hmmm….. Do you need to know this stuff? As a measure of the importance that the Maoris put on their native trees, a few hours of research on Wikipedia is enlightening. Enough for now.
N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.
As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.
Hardiness level Amber