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 (http://www.monticello.org/gardens/) 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.
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.
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