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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Billardiera longiflora, My Favorite Plant in the Garden (this week.)

My favorite plant in my garden for the last few days has been Billardiera longiflora, a sweet vine native to Tasmania and NWW, Australia.  Earlier in the season, it has nice little buttery yellow hanging trumpet shaped flowers which turn to lavender as they age.  The blooms are nice but often overlooked especially because I grow this vine with a showy double clematis (Josephine's a big show off) whose blooms upstage the subtler flowers of  Billardiera.



Stems are wiry and the foliage is nice but  not horribly substantial. If they'd been the only leaves handy in the garden of eden, many ecclesiastical paintings would loose their G ratings.

Neither flower nor foliage is the main attraction of this sweet vine; rather, it's these marble-sized, dark violet fruit that remains colorful through most of January.

I first saw this in fruit at Heronswood years ago and finally bought one three or four years ago.  It's grown slowly because it's growing in poor soil and only receives sporadic summer waterings. 
 This is the first year that this has produced fruit for me and since it's very near the front entry of our house, I'll see it and smile for months to come!

Hardy to zone 7 or 8 (conflicting sources)
Drought tolerant once established.
Fruits are seedy but edible.  Their taste is  somewhat like that of apples and hence the other popular name apple berry. (AKA Climbing Blueberry)
Climbs 3 - 10 feet.
Dan Hinkley says, "If I lived in a colder climate, I would attempt to grow this vine in a container - simply too remarkable for words.

My favorite plant in the garden (this week) is sponsored by Loree at Danger Garden.  Click on the link to find links to lots of other favorite plant posts.
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33 comments:

  1. What a cool plant! Love your funny comment about the garden of Eden.

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    1. This is a nice vine to plant with earlier blooming deciduous clematis because it carries the interest through January.

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  2. Those are so beautiful...you know how I love purple!

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    1. Wouldn't they look cool with your house-eating yellow clematis or maybe in a pot beside the shed with a trellis against the wall?

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  3. This is new to me and definitely going on my want list. The fruit has that same opalescent quality as beauty berry (Callicarpa).

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    1. Far Reaches Farm has the white and red berried forms in stock, Cistus doesn't have it listed for mail order but I wonder if they might have it kicking around the nursery.

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  4. Wow this is the first year you've got fruit? Looks like it's gone from nothing to quite a bit!

    And I love how your mind works, to have thought of the "G" rating risk.

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    1. It's really sweet to see it every day when I walk from the car to the front door and it'll be even nicer during that season not to even be contemplated at this happy time.

      My mind's always in the gutter!

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  5. WOW. I want this very badly now. Do you have this growing in full sun?

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    1. You should get one, it's really cool. Haven't seen them around much this year so I'll attempt to save seed & grow some for the spring exchange. Really bad with seed starting though as I usually don't water things much during the winter. It's in 1/2 day sun & the rest of the time dappled shade.

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  6. I love how you have it on an arch so you can walk under and see the fruit! what a wonderful blue color.

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    1. I wish I could say that it was intentional but really, I just found a structure with a small piece of vacant soil under it and dropped it in. Nice accident though.

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  7. Gorgeous flowers and fruit. I love this and wonder if I can find it too.

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    1. Far Reaches has red and white berried forms offered for mail order and I wonder if maybe they'll have the purple form again next year. It might be worth dropping Kelly an email and asking if they'll be making any of the purple ones.

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  8. Beautiful fruit and it's edible, such as combo attack

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    1. I think it's prettier than it is tasty but haven't tried it yet.

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  9. Oh, Peter, how nice! The fruit are unusual, blue color!

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    1. It is a sweet vine. Happy new week Nadezda!

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  10. Wow, I've never seen these before! Those purple fruits would put a smile on my face, too!

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  11. That fruit is very, very ornamental, love it!

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    1. This would look really good climbing a trachycarpus trunk!

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  12. What an interesting plant! I'd never heard of it before. Those purple fruit are so unique looking. I bet every garden visitor stops and takes a long look. And I noted that it's hardy in my zone! ;)

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    1. Lots of people sort of skip by it on the way to see things beyond. We gardeners like to take our time and enjoy discovering plants in gardens. (Many of my garden visitors have been non gardeners.)

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  13. A cool plant ... the fruit looks like psychedelic bell peppers.

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  14. I saw one years ago and tasted a berry. It was dry and mealy, reminiscent of Pernettya berries. It might depend on how old the berry is. They are such beautiful almost neon berries. It is remarkable that they hang on the vine so long.

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  15. I sowed this plant this year. Mine is red fruit that just like a tiny apple.
    They seem like water a lot. I tend to over water to plants but they are OK and grown 22 inches in 5 months.
    They are so beautiful!!
    I can't wait to see fruits!

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    1. I'm excited for you! I hope yours fruits soon!

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    2. Well,,,last night or this morning, we had the first frost of the season.
      I put some thin cover on them but it didn't work. Waaahhhhh!!

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  16. I'm from NC, USA. I have a dream of growing Tasmanian fruit here in greenhouses, and then selling at farmers markets. Before I invest time in buying this one- I must ask, have you ever tasted it and if you have, do you think people would buy them at farmers markets? Also, if they are bland do you they would be a good candidate for frying? Usually that's what we do around here if something doesn't taste good raw (especially okra).

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    1. People might buy them at farmers markets as a novelty because of their color but the flavor is fairly subtle and the berries are quite seedy. Never thought of frying them. I don't know if this vine would bear enough fruit to earn it a space in a greenhouse growing operation

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.