I was amused to hear a backhanded compliment given to this plant, a few years ago. “It doesn’t look like a native!” the speaker said, in a tone which implied that she believed she was bestowing high praise.
Bower vine has become such a familiar sight in our mainstream gardens, that it can be a surprise to discover that not only is it native to Australia, but it is a local plant, growing in the scrubs in the Toowoomba area and along the Great Dividing Range.
These flowers were picked up off the ground in Franke Scrub, Highfields.
As the name “bower vine” suggests, these plants are substantial vines with woody stems, suitable for training over an arch or pergola to make a lovely shady bower. (I suggest planting up to four plants for a quick shade cover.)They are also popular on fences and trellises.
Alternatively, they can be used as a dense, bird-sheltering groundcover, in an open situation where they won’t find anything to climb on. (Let them find a shrub or tree, though, and they’ll take to the heights.)
The pandorea species are named for Pandora, the poor woman who, according to ancient Greek legend, is "responsible" for all the world’s troubles. She was set up, of course. Zeus (a male god, please take note) gave her a box as a wedding present, with the clearly stated aim of tricking humans into accepting an "evil gift". When she opened it, all unaware of its contents, out they spilled like seeds from the pods of the Pandorea vines. In the myth, these contents were all the troubles of the world, but with Pandorea vines, they are just seeds. They are easy to grow, so if you get hold of one of the pods that are ripening on the vines at this time of year, you can have as many of these lovely vines as you could want.
Bower vines are hardy to Toowoomba droughts, especially if mulched. As with most climbers, their favourite site is one where their roots are in the shade but the canopy is in full sun, where it flowers best.
In a bushfire, these plants are a little more resistant to catching fire than some, which makes them a good plant for fencelines where fires are a concern. No plant is fireproof, though. However, bower vines can be among the first to regrow from their roots once the fire has gone.
They are frost tender when young.