One of the unusual plants available at the Open Gardens Constantia Plant Sale:
The South American snail vine (also called corkscrew vine, and climbing shell vine), Vigna caracalla, is a quick growing, sweet-smelling twiner, which Thomas Jefferson described as the most beautiful bean in the world (now you have to have it, don’t you?).
You are unlikely to find it at a nursery; you need to find a friend who has one or, if you are lucky, buy one from our plant sale at Rosemarie’s lovely garden.
The ‘snail’ refers to the curled shape of the flowers.The plants for sale have been propagated by Maureen Viljoen, who writes: “My plant grew almost perceptibly overnight as it raced up through a Trachelospermum jasminoides, emerging triumphantly through the top. It loses all its leaves in the winter and seems to disappear, so mark its position with a stick and label when it is still in its infancy.”
Photo: Marianne Alexander. Text: Maureen Viloen