Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Put It To Your Ear, You Can Hear the Ocean

When I first saw Vigna caracalla (aka Climbing Shell Vine, aka Corkscrew Vine) in a garden catalogue, I was skeptical. I think this may be the actual catalogue photo that I saw:

I'm always leery of any pictures in a catalogue that seem to good to be true. They'll show someone standing next to an impossibly gargantuan flower, and it's obviously photoshopped. Or they'll make the colour of a daylily or fall tree foliage more vivid than in reality. I hate that. Mr. Cowell agrees.

But then I saw that they were grown at Monticello in Virginia, which is only 4 1/2 hours away from me by car. In fact, it was said to be one of Thomas Jefferson's favourite flowers. Although in Jefferson's case, I think every flower was his favourite. ;)

If it's good enough for ol' T.J., it's good enough for me! I decided to be trusting and order one from Monticello's ( online garden catalogue. It came fairly quickly, and was a very healthy plant. It rapidly covered a trellis that I had placed on the south side of my house.

My photos:

They smelled wonderful. Some people have said that theirs didn't really smell like anything, but mine was highly fragrant. It's a smell that's hard to describe (unlike the smell of durian in my previous post lol). Sort of like hyacinths, maybe? I really wish I had a window on that side of the house so that it could waft through the house. Ants loved the thing.

It did amazingly well on my tall, sturdy trellis. It is only hardy to zone 9, and I'm in 8a. I tried digging it up for overwintering, because I heard people do that.

Yeah. No.

The root was massive, and looked like it may have worked its way into the Earth's core. It would be impossible to get up out of the ground. So I decided to leave them awhile, and see if it decided to be a Nice Behaved Little Vine and grow back. It didn't.

Could I have cut part of the root out and saved it?

I have no idea.

I'm not that knowledgeable of a gardener. I just like playing in the dirt. :D


Curbstone Valley Farm said...

What a pretty vine. I assume this vine didn't set seed? I wonder if instead of digging it up, if you could have taken a cutting in the fall, stripped the lower leaves, dunked the stem in rooting hormone, and potted it up indoors for the winter, to transplant outside in spring? Not sure if it would work, but if you try this plant again, might be worth experimenting.

Kyna said...

I don't know, I've never done that before. I could try it :)

My only problem is, where would I put it in the house? One of my earliest blogs posts talked about the lack of windows/light inside...

Tatiana said...

Well hello from snowy and foggy Calgary - I'm jealous!

I like your blog so far - I'm a complete beginner myself so you won't hear any advice from me, but that is a pretty vine.

On durian below: I braved the durian, and it smells like rotting onions and fish to me. The taste is mild, sweet and custardy and nothing that special. What's really odd is that my Russian grandmother loves it since discovering it upon arrival in Canada at the age of 78... no accounting for taste I suppose.

Kyna said...

Hi Tatiana :D Thanks for stopping by! :) Check out some of my 'older' blogs from last month if you're bored. There's the story of how I ended up here, instead of cold, foggy Alberta lol.

Advice isn't necessary. :D Just a "Hey, that's cool" or a "hey, that sucks" is enough for me lol.

Thanks for sharing your durian experience!

Gail said...

Hi, I've been having fun exploring your blog~ and now I shall have to check out the vine. I wonder where Mr Jefferson found these seeds!gail

Kyna said...

Hey Gail! Glad you've been enjoying yourself :D

This is the description from the Monticello website of this vine:

"In 1792, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Hawkins, "The most beautiful bean in the world is the caracalla bean which, though in England a greenhouse plant, will grow in the open air in Virginia and Carolina." It was being grown in American gardens by the 1830s, when Robert Buist wrote in The American Flower Garden Directory, "Snail-Flower is a very curious blooming plant, with flowers ... all spirally twisted, in great profusion when the plant is grown well." This spectacular flower was popular in florists' corsages by the late 19th-century."

ChickenFreak said...

Oh, that's lovely. For the root issue, what if you sank it in a pot next time for easy extraction? (Of course, then it couldn't tunnel for the earth's core, so it might not be happy.)

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Hi Kyna, so very nice to meet you also.

I am looking forward to going through your archives and reading about your story. What a huge climate move you have made, and may I say, I am fondly envious of your climate.

This snail flower looks so delicious. I don't remember ever seeing it before.

I will be back when I have a little time to visit again. Nice to hear from you.

Jen Muddy Boot Dreams

Kyna said...

ChickenFreak: Good idea! I didn't even think about that. I know it can be done, but knowing and remembering to do are two different things lol I think I may try that :D

I have a clematis vine there now, but I'd like to see if I can move it.

MBD: Thanks for taking the time to mosey on over! :D I love my new climate more now, than before I started this blog a month ago. That's the good thing I can say about blogging...makes you pay attention to the little details. :)

Can't wait to see you back :D

(My goodness I use smilies a lot O_O )

Jayne said...

I have no advice for you, but what a pretty flower! I share your pain about not having anywhere in the house for plants. Most of our windows face north, except for the guest bedroom and my husband's "man cave" both of which are "non-plant zones"

Bernie said...

It's such a gorgeous flower ... shame it didn't last. I think I would be trying Chickenfreak's idea if you buy it again ... it's too lovely to lose again!

Thanks for dropping by my blog as well ... glad you enjoyed my downunder photos.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Kyna I totally agree with you and "Simon" ... plants that look too good to be true in catalogs and web sites .. well I am leery.
But wow ! that vine did do what it was supposed to do : ) But the part about digging it up and over wintering it .. well, I'm way too lazy a gardener to go through all of that ? LOL
Funny post girl !

Kimberly said...

Kyna, I love this vine! So pretty and interesting!!

Kyna said...

Jayne: I'm glad I'm not the only one that has that problem lol. My south side and north side have zero windows. The east side has two that are side by side, but of course that side only gets a few hours of morning sun. The west side has the most windows. But the problem is where they're located. My stepdaughter's room is a no plant zone. My bedroom has this wall outcropping outside of it from our bathroom that blocks a lot of the sunlight until late afternoon. Kitchen windows have that same problem from the back porch location. Argh!

So that's why I'm not one of those people who can start massive amounts of seeds in late winter :(

Bernie: You're welcome, it's a great blog! :) I am 99.9% sure Im' going to try it again this year with a submerged pot. You guys have me motivated :D

Joy: You sound like my sort of gardener lol! But yeah, every time I get a catalogue in I play a game of 'spot the photoshop' :) I keep thinking, 'Am I the only one that can see through this ruse??' LOL I don't believe it until I see it.

Kyna said...

Kimberly: Thank you so much for stopping by and taking a look! :D

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

I had no idea about this flower or where it came from. I did go to the Jefferson link you had posted and will have to go back when I am on my desktop so I can take a longer look around. I enjoyed this post and thank you for the visit to my blog and the comment about the hawk with the snake you saw.

I spent an hour a while ago watching and photographing the same hawk and took well over 100 photos of it with a different lens. I am anxious to see how they came out. I was also struck by the fact that a hundred photos, of him, were of him perched on my board fence. The board is 6 inches wide. The bird was not that wide. So he is a tiny bird if compared to most hawks.

Kyna said...

That's ok, you seem like more of a bird guy than a flower guy :D I'm glad you came to take a look anyway, and enjoyed the Monticello link :)

I'm looking forward to the new hawk pics, I'm sure they will come out beautifully :D

Anna said...

Oh what a beauty Kyna - probably would not overwinter here. Wonder whether you could have taken cuttings :)

Jess said...

Hi Kyna - you know, I went to school at UVa where everyone still acts like ol' TJ is alive! Isn't C'ville the greatest?

Good to know these plants do so well, I'll put them on my list of things that get the thumbs up if I see em around... I'm sure there isn't much difference between 8a and 8b, particularly this winter with all the very cold weather. And rain. Man I'm sick of rain.

Kyna said...

Anna: I've never tried doing the 'taking cuttings' thing. I bought a plant propagation book recently, and I've been trying to read up. :)

Jess: Thanks for reading! :) I was just saying that same thing to Mr. A literally two minutes ago after we watched the weather report. I am also SICK of rain :( Glad you liked the vine :D