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Favourites - 3

Contributions from readers are invited for this series on their favourite species, cultivar, hybrid or plant group. You don't need to write much - three or four paragraphs would be fine! So, if you'd like to give it a go, please get in touch with the editor (sgap@ozemail.com.au). If you have a good colour photograph to accompany it, that would be great but, if not, we may be able to dig up one from somewhere!

Hardenbergia violacea - Native or False Sarsaparilla

Gill Muller

I am inspired to write about Hardenbergia at this time of year (July/August) as the plants are lighting up my garden. I live in the Mitcham Hills in Adelaide, with a neutral clay/loam, and a rainfall of about 600mm. They have been flowering for most of July, and will go well on into August.

There is Hardenbergia violacea "Happy Wanderer" (probably my favourite) all around the fence lines, it's deep purple racemes contrasting beautifully with the dark green foliage. The white climbers "Free and Easy" and "White Wanderer" are in a few spots, as well as the bushy white Hardenbergia violacea "Alba" throughout the garden. "Blushing Princess" (lovely pink) lives by the front gate looking stunning next to a "Happy Wanderer". Various climbing and shrubby forms of the straight Hardenbergia violacea are dotted throughout the garden, one a late flowerer not out yet. "Purple Clusters" and "Bushy Blue" have their place, and I have yet to collect "Strawberry Shake" and "White Out". Their colours seem really suited to winter, I think they look better in a dull light.

Hardenbergia violacea  
Because of its wide distribution, Hardenbergia violacea has a range of colour forms and growth habits. The normal form (top) has its brilliant purple /mauve flowers but other colours are available such as the pink form (centre).
Hardenbergia comptoniana (bottom) is a similar species which occurs in Western Australia.

Photos: Brian Walters, Garin Dadson

Hardenbergia violacea - Pink
Hardenbergia comptoniana

There are over 20 more sitting in tubes waiting to be planted, and I haven't got any of the Hardenbergia comptoniana forms yet! Hardenbergia violacea is indigenous to my area.

When they have finished flowering I let my husband loose with the hedge clippers, and he keeps at them every few months till late summer, then we leave them alone to develop their flowers. They are all pruned hard, back at least a third, and this really stops them getting woody.

They grow well in the more alkaline soil of the Adelaide Plains too, and will take full sun or dappled shade. At a recent Australian Plants Society meeting, the specimen table was covered with beautiful hakeas, acacias, darwinias and grevilleas, I think people thought my pink, purple and white flowers were common, but they really are beautiful, and very hardy.

Thanks Gill....an excellent choice and a much under-rated plant. I had no idea that there were so many different cultivars. I'll have to start adding to my own collection!

Brian Walters, Editor


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Australian Plants online - December 2000
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants