Akebia Quinata (Chocolate vine)
The Chocolate Vine is an unusual climber, best grown in warmer gardens since the flowers are prone to damage from late frosts. The maroon-chocolate flowers look almost artificial, with three thick, waxy ‘petals’ forming an inverted cup shape. These are clustered along the stems and have an exotic light fragrance with a hint of vanilla. In a mild winter the leaves last all winter but in cold areas expect baldness – I love the fact that they very quickly recover and can hide an unsightly building/shed/view, so that you don’t resort to planting the dreaded “Russian Vine”. After a particularly warm summer similar to 2018, large sausage-shaped fruit dangle from the stems.