The wisteria was not the only plant that seemed intent on taking over the courtyard. Both the mimosa and the passion flower have made pretty goods attempts at doing so.
The mimosa was a “reader
offer” in our daily newspaper and we thought it would be nice to have a
plant in bloom during the more dreary winter months, so we bought one.
We knew that mimosa is usually found around the Mediterranean, well to
the south of our village, but we reasoned that if it was being sold by
an English newspaper, presumably for planting in England, our village
should be far enough south.
The hole from which Chris,
Alan and I had extracted the lump of concrete had not been filled in,
and this proved ideal for the mimosa’s root-ball. I backfilled with
compost to give it a good start, but I really need not have bothered.
That plant didn’t need a better start than it would get from the earth
in the courtyard.
Jacques, when we told him, was very
sceptical about the prospects for the plant’s survival. He thought we
were too far north for it, but agreed that as we had planted it is a
sheltered spot, it might survive the winter.
just over three feet high when it was planted in the spring and, in our
ignorance, we expected it to grow to about six feet by the time it was
mature. When we were next at the house, we were astonished to find that
the mimosa had grown and was now level with the top of the downstairs
windows. Three months later, and it was halfway up the upstairs bedroom
window. This was no six foot shrub. Then we discovered that the
mimosa is actually quite a tall tree.
I worried that we
had planted this monster too close to the house and that it might
damage the foundations until I realised that, having been built in 1840,
the house probably had no foundations to be damaged. The walls were
two feet thick, so they should be safe. Next spring I discovered that I
needn’t have worried at all: the mimosa had not survived the winter.
Mrs S was a little peeved, to put it mildly, as a friend had also bought
one of these plants and it was still going strong in England. And just
to rub salt in the wound, we discovered two other mimosas in the
The passion flower also did very will during the first summer. We had
collected several passion flower fruits from a friend’s plant several
years before and had grown plants of our own from the seeds. Some of
these had been planted in our own garden in England and some we had
given to friends, including Alan. We wanted to hide the ugly breeze
block wall of the sheds and set about growing some more passion fruit
plants to do the job. Unfortunately, none of these survived, but Alan
was able to come to the rescue with a pot of seedlings.
be on the safe side, I planted three or four of those seedlings against
the shed wall. By mid-summer, they had grown so well that we had to cut
our way through the plant to open the shed door, and the plants had
spread nearly halfway across the courtyard. In the autumn, we pruned
the plants quite severely, but by the following spring, they all looked
as though we had overdone it.
Despite my scepticism, Mrs S was
determined to rescue those plants. I’m not entirely sure just what she
did, but I did notice that the level of the orange juice went down
dramatically. Whatever the secret, it worked, and once again we had to
hack our way through to the shed door by mid-July. But at least the
passion flower has made a good job of hiding that wall.