Clippings: Jackie French takes a green curtain call
Jackie French on the joy of growing leafy curtains, a beautiful rose and the garden jobs for the month.
Imagine forest light in your own living room, with green leaves filtering harsh mid-summer sun. That’s what “green curtains” – climbing plants that clamber up windows or hang down them – give you. Unlike ordinary curtains, green leaves don’t block all the light. Instead, they give coolness, beauty and privacy… and cost only a few dollars, too.
Indoor window box
The easiest “green curtains” are grown from a window box installed inside. Indoor gardens need less water than those outside and they are safe from harsh, hot winds, as well as frosts.
Plant climbing bean, pea or sweet pea seeds in a planter box filled with soil and add slow-release fertiliser. Now thread cotton up from the planter box to the top of the window, one thread for each seed. As the plants grow, they’ll twine around the string. In February’s heat, you’ll have both curtains and beans in about six weeks – magic for children.
work brilliantly as “green curtains”, too. Install the window box at the top of the window – make sure you can reach to water it. Climbing beans or peas will hang down without any aid from you. So will perennials such as New Zealand spinach, a tough native spinach that can grow a metre a day if well fed and watered, and in a sunny spot. Choko vines, cucumbers and even strawberries also make glorious hanging curtains.
One of my favourite “green curtains” is a passionfruit vine grown in a large pot in the owner’s bedroom. They’ve trained it up the window frame so leaves and fruit hang down. Each summer, the vine covers the window and in winter it’s trimmed to allow in light.
The most elegant “green curtains” are made by installing bars across the window, then hanging small pots of succulents, such as echeveria, or any hardy cactus. You have the “green light” effect, giving privacy without feeling shut off. The “almost symmetry” of the pots is stunning, too.