HOW TO GROW HON­EY­SUCKLE

A lovely climber for pretty blooms and in­tox­i­cat­ing scent

Amateur Gardening - - Content -

THE ro­man­tic na­ture of na­tive wood­bine, more com­monly known as hon­ey­suckle or

Lon­icera per­icly­menum, has not been lost on our great­est po­ets and play­wrights. Al­fred Ten­nyson notably wrote: “The wood­bine spices wafted abroad, and the musk of roses is blown”, while in Shake­speare’s A Mid­sum­mer

Night’s Dream, Ti­ta­nia, snug­gling up to Bot­tom, says, “So doth the wood­bine the sweet hon­ey­suckle gen­tly en­twist; the female ivy so en­rings the barky fin­gers of the elm”.

De­li­ciously fra­grant flow­ers grow in at­trac­tive whorls, with buds a richer shade at the cen­tre, mak­ing the blooms pink, cream and white all at once. In our gar­dens we tend to drift to­wards cul­ti­vated forms such as the pretty pale

L.p. ‘Bel­gica’ and crim­son pink L.p. ‘Serotina’ – the early and late Dutch hon­ey­suck­les re­spec­tively. Check out ‘Heaven Scent’ and ‘Gra­ham Thomas’, too. If you want a climber but have a smaller gar­den or limited space, then L.p. ‘Straw­ber­ries and Cream’ and L.p. ‘Honey Baby’ are both com­pact enough to grow in con­tain­ers. Tall­grow­ing L. x amer­i­cana and sun-lov­ing

L. etr­usca ‘Su­perba’ are pop­u­lar fra­grant twin­ers. There are around 180 species of

lon­icera to choose from – some shrubby and not all of them scented.

Stay­ing with climb­ing hon­ey­suck­les, there’s def­i­nitely a mo­tive for grow­ing

L. capri­folium be­cause the fra­grant Ital­ian hon­ey­suckle is usu­ally the first to bloom, in May. L. tell­man­ni­ana has stun­ning looks but no per­fume. I would use it in an ‘ex­otic’ bor­der where gen­er­ous clus­ters of large, tan­ger­ine­coloured flow­ers mimic ten­der Te­coma

capen­sis, known as Cape hon­ey­suckle – a scram­bling climber that is pop­u­lar in the warmer gar­dens of the world.

Among shrubby hon­ey­suck­les, ev­er­green, small-leaved L.ni­tida and its gold-leaved cul­ti­var ‘Bagge­sen’s Gold’ are often used for both hedg­ing and top­i­ary. Ev­ery gar­den should have win­ter flow­er­ing de­cid­u­ous

L. fra­grantis­sima or L. x pur­pusii ‘Win­ter Beauty’. Pale fra­grant blooms stand out against bare stems and if short on space, you could try train­ing them against cool north or east-fac­ing walls.

I’m check­ing the ev­er­green L. hen­ryi ‘Cop­per Beauty’, planted here a year ago to cover a shed. Strong growths are ap­pear­ing, but I don’t think we’ll see yel­low-throated flow­ers this sum­mer

‘Honey Baby’ is a com­pact va­ri­ety, ideal for smaller gar­dens

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