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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Winter 2004
John Cushnie On...

24 January 2006

climbingrose-cecilebrunnerModern use of conservatories tends to prevent them being used for plants. Reasons are many and varied; the pots are too large, the plants take up too much space, the leaves fall, there are pests and anyhow the room is too sunny and hot.

Look at it the other way. The plants will offer welcome shade, most of them can be set outside for the summer, they add interest, foliage and flower colour and above all many are highly fragrant.

For gardeners it allows us to grow those plants that are too tender to grow outside such as bougainvillea and aloe.

agapanthus-praecoxThere are lots of showy plants that are ideal for containers but among the best are agapanthus and clivia. Both have large, strap-like, glossy green leaves with spectacular flowers. The former produces large, spherical clusters of various shades of blue or pure white flowers in late summer. Clivia miniata will flower from spring to late summer with large umbels of funnel-shaped, yellow, orange or red flowers.

Drega sinensis is sometimes labelled as Wattakaka sinensis. It is an evergreen climber that is hardy on a sunny, south facing wall in a very sheltered garden. In the conservatory it will grow to 3 metres (10 ft ) in height. In summer it produces umbels of creamy white, red and pink speckled flowers. They are incredibly fragrant.

Mandevilla laxa better known as Chinese jasmine.Another tender climber is the strongly perfumed Mandevilla laxa better known as Chinese jasmine. It's tubular, creamy white flowers appear in summer and early autumn. It is vigorous growing to 4 metres (13 ft) high but will be somewhat restricted in a container. If it needs to be curtailed then shorten the side shoots to 3-4 buds in late winter or early spring.

A word of caution. Through wounds it exudes a milky latex that may cause skin irritation.

If strong sunlight is a problem in the conservatory and roof blinds prove to be too expensive than plant a vine and train it on wires across the roof. The large leaves will cool the room and perhaps someone will peel you grapes!

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