Release the Kraken

I came upon this gorgeous Passiflora trifasciata on my first day in Thailand and was completely floored by it. I had no idea that such a gem existed. The leaves look like big bird feet!

Passiflora is known primarily for its gorgeous flowers and deliciously exotic fruit. The leaves have a nice shape, but I find them to be a bit boring overall. I had never seen one before this that is clearly all about the foliage. When given a choice, I tend to favour foliage over flowers. Flowers come and go, but interesting foliage holds your interest almost indefinitely, depending on the plant (and your climate). Being short on space, I prefer to keep plants that give me something to look at for longer periods of time. Ugly, ragged stages of plant development don’t hide well when there is no behind-the-scenes area in which to hide them.

Of course, being a plantoholic through and through, I want one. Immediately. I figure if I can tolerate the inconvenience required to overwinter a very large passionfruit vine with pretty flowers but boring leaves in the hallway outside the door of a cramped apartment for three years running, then surely I can keep this one now that I’ve got more space.

And yet another door is opened. Over the weekend I was chatting with a fellow gardener and thrifting friend about how you can find interest in certain collectibles, but you stay away from buying even one because you don’t want to open the floodgates to a new obsession. It’s okay to admire that jug, bowl, or plant from a distance with a certain amount of interested detachment, but inviting one into your home and life is a dangerous first step towards an appearance on the show Hoarders.

Having more space and an evolving mindset has unleashed the Kraken inside of me, so-to-speak. There are so many plants that I am either going back to with a renewed passion, or am allowing myself to try for the first time ever. Friends, these are interesting, albeit dangerous times.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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15 thoughts on “Release the Kraken

  1. So, I am a little unclear… Did you get one in Thailand? Back home? Or is it on your wish list? (Gorgeous, by the way…) I have always admired passion flower but passed them over for the same reason. I don’t think I could pass this one up! Excellent choice!

  2. amazing, this post was made for me!
    I’m a huge fan of passiflora, and have also never seen one with such interesting foliage – if you are able to source one you’ll have to share the info so I can get one too!

  3. ooo, exciting. I find gardening to be, amongst other things, a test of my (uneven) self-control. can’t wait to see what you say “yes” to, in addition to this gorgeous, interesting passiflora.

  4. Isn’t she lovely? This one’s been on my list for a while.

    The same Kraken was released when we moved into our new place. New space, new windows, new yard = new plants! I may have gone overboard.

    Lately my avoidance technique has been to buy seeds instead. I figure if I can grow it from seed, I deserve to keep it. Of course, it helps that it’s cheaper, too.

    And, hey, look, Passiflora trifasciata seeds are on eBay. Hmmn.

  5. Damn you Derek! I will not look. I still have to get my food plants out so I have room to start my mesemb seeds.

    This frenzy isn’t really new, just different and perhaps a bit crazier because I have more space. I go a bit nuts every spring.

  6. I bought one of these from Molbak’s nursery, Woodinville, many years ago (along with a P. coriacea). Unfortunately it died when the power went out and I lost heat in the greenhouse. Molbak’s has since dumbed down their plant selection so much I can’t imagine them having anything that cool now. Too bad.

  7. Oh god, I know EXACTLY what you mean. There are whole groups of plants I don’t ever let myself look at because I know what will happen. This year I’ve let myself go on all sorts of lovely papaver species, and I’m digging a pond! The orgy of water lilies is about to begin…

  8. Ed: I did a google search to see them. They’re white. Not super exciting, but who cares ’cause the foliage is nice.

    Joseph: I don’t allow my brain to go there. I’ve wanted a pond since I was a kid and that trip to Thailand made me REALLY want one. I haven’t posted on it yet, but I saw SO MANY types of waterlilies I was completely blown away. But I just know the raccoons would make a horrible, horrible mess of it so… no pond for me.

  9. That one sure is pretty. The snails would devour here, I just know it. I totally understand the comment about not wanting to ‘open the floodgates.’ I recently purchased a few lithops on Ebay and I know it’s the start of something obsessive. The problem for me with collecting plants is I find I’m more interested in the collection process than the plants themselves. It’s the thrill of finding something new I crave, but I can often lose interest in them once I’ve attained them. So now I have a waiting period. If I still want something months after I’ve seen it and if I know it will have a good home in my garden, then I’ll get it. Otherwise, I will just covet them from afar.

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