If you were expecting this post to be a bit racy, fear not - its subject is the rather gorgeous passiflora, or passion flower. Our passion flower has been thriving this year since some trees which were overshadowing it were cut back. It's a climber which originally comes from South America and looks incredibly exotic in British gardens. This variety is the most winter-hardy one, but there are other beautiful varieties which are better grown in greenhouses. Think I bought this one in a supermarket a few years ago.
I marvel at the complexities of the flower, so completely different to anything else growing in our garden. Just look at the centre with its amazing structures. It gets its name from the Passion of Christ and a great deal of religious symbolism has been attached to the numbers and arrangement of petals, sepals, stigmas and anthers. In it's natural habitat the flowers are pollinated by large bees, hummingbirds and wasps.
I love all of those thin blue, white and purple filaments radiating out from the centre. They really are very striking.
Another interesting feature of the passion flower is its tendrils which reach out as it climbs and wrap themselves around whatever's available to hold it in place. You can see one down at the bottom of the picture in the centre.
In close up it's an incredible little spring, ready to uncoil and wind itself around another plant, like the honeysuckle that it's growing with.
In a warm summer the passion flower produces these egg-shaped fruits which will turn orange when they are ripe.
Mine haven't produced these fruits for a couple of years, but this summer they have, as you can see. Apparently, although they are not the same variety as the ones you can buy in the supermarket, they are still edible but not very tasty. Think I'll just admire them instead.
Even on a drab, grey, wet summer's day (like today) these exotic plants bring a taste of the tropics into the garden, and I love them for that.