For about ten years, a friend and I have opened our gardens for charity. We are both plantsmen and plantaholics but with completely different soil conditions; the gardens compliment each other. We open at different times every year in an attempt to tempt previous visitors to repeat their trip. This year we decided to open on 16th August. Every year the same doubts crop up – will the weather be fine, what will be in flower, will anyone come? So far we have been lucky – the sun shines (except for a couple of showers one year), something always comes into bloom at the last minute, and the number of people through the gate makes it worthwhile. There are always questions about the identity of some of the plants, often I can anticipate which ones, but on other occasions, something entirely unexpected catches the eye. But there is always a ‘star’ plant that gets more questions than any other. This time, it was the red and white flowered scrambler on the trellis just inside the front gate.
It’s abutilon megapotanicum, a lax climber that needs some help to ascend. It’s certainly hardy in the south of the UK, given a southerly aspect and well drained soil. In a mild winter, it can even flower right through all but the coldest weather; in colder ones it may be cut to the ground but will regrow from the roots once the temperature warms up again. Five to six feet is its maximum height with a similar spread.
So now you know what that plant with the red and yellow flowers is.