HOW SWEET

Jas­mines are pop­u­lar ev­er­green climbers, grown for their easy-going na­ture and pro­lific cov­er­ing of scented flow­ers, writes JEN­NIFER STACK­HOUSE

Gardening Australia - - OUT & ABOUT -

Jas­mines are roughly di­vided into two groups. There are true jas­mines – those in the genus Jas­minum – and jas­mine-like plants, which have fra­grant, usu­ally white flow­ers that re­sem­ble jas­mine but are not clas­si­fied as Jas­minum. Prob­a­bly the best known of the true jas­mines is the one that I call ‘stinky pinky’, more for­mally known as J. polyan­thum. It is an ev­er­green, twin­ing climber, with tubu­lar, white flow­ers that open from clus­ters of pink buds. The scent is sweet and pen­e­trat­ing.

This jas­mine pro­claims that spring and warmer weather are on the way by flow­er­ing in late win­ter, es­pe­cially if it has found a spot along a sunny wall or hang­ing over a fence. One or two heads bloom in the win­ter sun­shine with just a whiff of per­fume – enough to ex­cite, yet not over­whelm – but as spring ar­rives, its fra­grance ratch­ets up to knock­out level. For some un­lucky peo­ple, that first hint of jas­mine is the sig­nal that the hayfever sea­son is on its way.

Stinky pinky isn’t ex­actly a tidy plant, and it isn’t well be­haved, but it’s easy to grow and is free of pests or dis­eases. It hap­pily roams away from its home plant­ing, spread­ing ten­drils and run­ners ev­ery­where. In many old sub­urbs, this jas­mine is lumped with morn­ing glory, ivy and honey­suckle as a weedy climber that’s hard to con­trol. Giv­ing the plants a prune when they have fin­ished flow­er­ing and again in sum­mer helps keep them in check.

There are 200 or so species of jas­mine na­tive to re­gions across Asia, Europe and Africa. All are part of the olive fam­ily (Oleaceae). Most are not badly be­haved like stinky pinky. J. of­fic­i­nale is a sprawl­ing shrub that is usu­ally trained as a climber. It blooms from sum­mer well into au­tumn, in sun or shade, and sports loose clus­ters of fra­grant, white flow­ers. As this jas­mine is never as heav­ily in bloom as old stinky pinky, its scent isn't over­whelm­ing or cloy­ing.

“It hap­pily roams away from its home plant­ing, spread­ing ten­drils and run­ners ev­ery­where”

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