false mallow syn. Malvastrum lateritium
In 1987, when I attended a course in garden design at the Chelsea Physic Garden, James Compton was the head gardener, and in the same year he published a book called ‘Success with Unusual Plants’. I love this book: it’s full of interesting and unfamiliar plants, amongst which is Modiolastrum lateritium on page forty. (It is thanks to the description of this plant on Norwell Nurseries’ website that I was reminded of this, link at the end.)
I was also intrigued to see that it is included in the book in the section entitled ‘Annuals, Biennials and Tender Perennials’, which means that no-one should buy it with any great expectation of its longevity! However, on various websites it is described as anything between fully hardy and ‘a little tender’; but for my part, unless it gets a certain amount of protection, and a sunny position in very free draining soil, I would be dubious of the more optimistic claims.
This seldom seen but very striking plant is sure to make your friends stop and stare, and they will certainly want to know what it is. If left alone it will sprawl and spread about, but apparently it can also be trained to clamber up a wall or trellis.
Ours is presently sharing a large terracotta pot with other tender summer treasures but I shall no doubt be experimenting vertically next year, and certainly testing its hardiness over the winter!
This is the link to the excellent Norwell Nurseries