Unpopular Plant #2 – All in Vein

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

Variegated honeysuckle with roseIf you figure that kudzu ranks high as an unpopular plant, then can Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) be far behind? Well, sure enough, there’s a variegated version of this menace as well, and oh, it’s a beauty, with bold, bright yellow to creamy yellow veining over the usual green. I suppose it flowers, too, although I don’t recall ever noticing blooms. This stunning selection goes by the name ‘Aureoreticulata’. It’s hardly a compelling, marketable moniker—not that any nursery in its right mind would make a point of actively promoting this vine, although there are some that sell it—but it sounds impressive when you say it. And, unlike some cultivar names, this one actually tells you something about the plant: “aureo” meaning “gold” and “reticulata” meaning “netted.”

Variegated Japanese honeysuckle on dusty meadow rueDue to its heavy variegation, ‘Aureoreticulata’ is somewhat less vigorous than the species, which is to say that may take over just part of your yard instead of the whole thing. It too, though, can readily wrap around and possibly strangle its companions. I have it growing up an established ‘New Dawn’ rose, which seems sturdy enough to hold its own, although I do occasionally snip off parts of the honeysuckle that seemed to be wrapping too tightly around the rose canes. The shoots also creep around the base of the rose, winding their way up though vertical companions, such as this blue-leaved dusty meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum var. glaucum). Some of the vignettes it creates with perennials are quite lovely, with the added advantage of being temporary: When I cut down the perennials, that part of the vine gets removed along with them.

Just out of curiosity, I ran “Lonicera japonica” through the RHS Plant Finder and discovered two other variegated cultivars: ‘Horwood Gem’ and ‘Mint Crisp’. They appear to be available only in Europe, though—at least until some naughty American gardeners smuggle them home in their luggage (not that any of you would do such a thing).

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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