Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jasmine in the Traditional Cottage Garden

© Copyright John Grayson and
licensed for reuse under this
Creative Commons License.
One of many cottages named
"Jasmine Cottage" in England.
This idyllic one is in Hutton
 by Lorraine Syratt ©2012

In the traditional cottage garden, the walls of the cottage were often covered with climbing and cascading plants, and the summer-flowering jasmine, Jasminum officinale was always a favorite. Jasmine is still an important plant in romantic gardening design. It ticks all the boxes – great scent and lovely flowering attributes.

Jasminum is a genus of 300 species of evergreen and deciduous climbers and shrubs, easily trained to climb walls, arbors and fences. Most are quite hardy and beautifully scented.

Yellow Jasmine 
in Torquay Memorial Gardens, England
© Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse
under this Creative Commons License
J. officinale is the common white jasmine with origins in India, Persia and China. It grows vigorously to 30' with twining stems, and its pure white flowers bloom in profuse clusters.

There are numerous hybrids that are more refined than the common white jasmine, such as the primrose jasmine which is a shrub and will only grow to about 5'. The winter-flowering jasmine is also a shrub, growing to 10' tall, and the shrub, Himalayan jasmine, will grow to about 8' tall. Also worth considering is J. polyanthum, which will grow to 10' tall. It is a half-hardy and semi-evergreen climbing species that will do well from garden zone 7 and higher.

Jasmine will grow in ordinary garden soil, but it prefers warm sheltered positions. If it is to be grown to climb up a wall, the main stems will need to be tied in and secured. It can become quite thick, because as the branches grow, they form a layering affect one on top of the other.

Jasmine on Hazelbury House,
Painswick, England
© Copyright Derek Harper
and licensed for reuse 
under this Creative Commons License

After the plants have flowered, remove the spent flower heads and cut out any old, weak or dead wood. Thin out the shoots after flowering, but it's not advisable to shorten the stems. Jasmine is seldom troubled by disease, but mold may cause die-back if the plants are damaged by frost.

As a night-scented plant, the cottage gardeners of the past planted jasmine on the walls outside their bedroom window and the scent from the plants would waft into the rooms. It's a lovely cottage garden climbing plant with a long tradition in this environment.

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