Abutilon “Nabob”


I have an addiction – well, maybe more than one actually – but the one I’ll admit to is to buying plants. I seem physically unable to visit a garden centre, pass a plant stall, or leave an open garden without at least one precious growing thing. I am always utterly convinced that a space will be found – a small corner or gap that desperately needs filling. More often than not I am mistaken, and my new treasure finds itself laid up in pot, awaiting a genuine slot in the planting “plan”. As addictions go it’s not too deadly, although sometimes a little costly. The continuous procession of new plants through the garden gate means that no two seasons are ever the same. The downside is that the pots proliferate at an alarming rate, creating a lot of work, especially in the summer months.

So, true to form, our quick Sunday walk around Highgate garden centre resulted in a handful of strictly unnecessary purchases. One, a new variety of Thunbergia called “Raspberry Smoothy”, is a climber with uncharacteristically soft, silvery leaves, the texture of peach skin. The flowers are a very delicious looking dusky pink. I can’t wait to see it sprawling and climbing through other silver leaved plants. The other purchase was an Abutilon, a plant I am familiar with, but have never grown. And for once, it’s a plant which is very much better suited to a large pot than open ground, so it can easily be taken into shelter for the winter. The variety which took my eye was “Nabob” (meaning “a conspicuously wealthy man who made his fortune in the Orient”‘, apparently) which bears lush, maple-shaped leaves and huge, crimson, bowl-shaped flowers. Currently at 2ft tall, it could reach 4-6ft by the end of the summer, making it quite a feature. Before the first frosts it can be transferred indoors for a bit of TLC, and should look rather festive for Christmas!

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