THIS stunning climber, Eccremocarpus scaber, has just about finished its 2011 display but will almost certainly have set huge amounts of seed ready for next year.
So, with another cold winter forecast and the chances of the parent plant surviving the winter chill decreasing, it is best to harvest some of the seed now before it rots and you can then start off some young plants in spring.
This perennial climber from the Andes in South America has been with us in Britain since the early part of the 19th century but has become more popular over the last 30 years or so as we have expanded our ideas on what we can grow in our fickle British climate.
Grown in a sheltered, sunny corner of the garden and given a decent climbing frame to let its leaf tendrils wrap themselves around, Eccremocarpus scaber can reach upwards of 4 metres (13’) in summer, with the racemes of tubular orange, yellow, scarlet or pink flowers hanging gracefully from the young stems.
With around 10 named cultivars and strains available to us now, it is worth looking out for seed that you can sow on a windowsill next springtime and grow the resulting offspring in containers for the summer or plant one or two out in that sheltered, sunny corner to see if they survive our current run of cold winters.
Chilterns Seeds lists two good strains – www.chilternseeds.co.uk or call 01229 581137.