Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Passion of Christ in Flora

Two springs ago, when I was just getting into gardening for real, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to the Cleveland Flower Show with her. I jumped at the chance and while I was there, I was captivated by a very unusual flower I'd never seen before. It was for sale, and without even checking the details on it, such as growing zone, I bought it.

I brought my Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea 'Clear Sky') home, and replanted it into a hanging iron globe I'd gotten from Jackson & Perkins. I hung it outside under the pergola and it bore lovely, other-worldly blooms all summer. Then fall came and since it's only marginally hardy to zone 7, it had to come in. I'd not had any experience overwintering plants that had previously enjoyed the outdoors, so I wasn't sure how it would do. In fact, I had quite a reputation for killing houseplants up to that point.

It did well, and graced us with blooms off and on all winter. The blooms only last about a day, so when it was flowering, I took a look often throughout the day, admiring the unusual characteristics it displayed. One day, I took a series of four pictures, each about 20 minutes apart, depicting the bloom sequence:

There's a legend associated with the passion flower that in 1620, a Jesuit priest in Peru came across this flower and was impressed with its beauty. That evening, he had a dream in which the parts of the flower were likened to symbols of the crucifixion. The petals and sepals represented the disciples; the pistils were the nails; the purple corona was the crown of thorns, and the stemmed ovary was the chalice. The Dogwood tree (Cornus sp.) is another plant that has been associated with the crucifixion.

Last year - even with pruning - my passiflora, which is a vine, outgrew its container. In fact, I think each pruning elicited a growth spurt. I replanted it into a long rectangular container with an iron trellis. It has now fully covered the trellis and has been one of my favorite houseplants, due to its unique blooms and my success with it. I have tried to grow 'Lady Margaret' and have killed three of them, so I'm not going to waste any more money on that one, even though I love its rich magenta color.

I do want to try to grow the species known as 'Maypop,' as it is supposed to be hardy to zone 5. You know how we gardeners are - if we don't succeed with this one, we try that one.


Sisah said...

That brings back memories...when I was a school girl my teacher used to keep plants on the window-sills of our classroom. I never forget that Passiflora opening their blooms, it really amazed me to watch it literally spring open, when I sat on my schoolbench probably a bit bored.....
Frohe Ostern, Kylee!

kate said...

The picture sequence was incredible ... you are a talented photographer.

I have had little success in over-wintering passion flower vines, although I try every year.

gardenmomma (Chris) said...

Your photos are absolutely beautiful! Hope you have had a blessed Easter!

Anonymous said...

I had passion flowers at my old house... they entirely covered a 20 foot lattice covered porch... It was gorgeous in the summer...

I got one when I moved but have yet to get it in the ground... It's actually been outside in a plastic bag full of newspaper for about 2 1/2 years now... It is still is trying to grow. this year, maybe I'll get around to planting it!

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