Draped elegantly over the high walls surrounding Marrakech’s wealthier villas and riads is an elegant climber known variously as pink trumpet vine, Queen of Sheba, Port St. John’s creeper and Zimbabwe creeper. As the latter suggests, Podranea ricasoliana, as it’s less attractively known in latin, hails from Southern Africa. I naturally assumed that there would be no chance of growing this blushing beauty at home. It turns out I could be wrong. Roseland House Nursery in my native Cornwall suggest that “it will take cold, but like campsis needs sun and heat to flower”, recommending that it performs best planted in a cold greenhouse or against an exceptionally hot, sheltered wall.
My observation from today’s visit to the exquisite Jardin Majorelle is that the pink trumpet vine is apt to get a little out of control. In the cool confines of Yves Saint Laurent’s famous garden it positively smothers pergolas with long stems of jasmine-like foliage, each terminated with a cluster of sugar-pink trumpets. The vine’s brutish behaviour is veiled behind the finesse of its glossy compound leaves and sweetly scented flowers which bounce about delicately in the slightest breeze.
Podranea ricasoliana is related to the catalpas, Australian pandoreas and the splendid jacaranda tree, all members of the family Bignoniaceae. In a slightly bizarre piece if botanical naming, I discover that podranea is, quite deliberately, an anagram of pandorea. So, if you like pink, have a sun-kissed wall to cover or a conservatory of mighty proportions, here’s the climber for you. I will certainly be seeking it out on my return from North Africa.