Bauhinia for training over pergola?

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MikeHardman

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Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« on: August 05, 2011, 08:14:21 AM »
I am pondering plants to use to train over a pergola / car port (yet to be built).

While in Paphos yesterday, I was struck by the similarity in growth of heavily-pruned Bauhinia (?variegata) and Morus (mulberry). Both produce strong linear shoots, well-clothed with leaves along their length. The leaves of Bauhinia are that much tougher in texture. Both will take heavy pruning and grow unirrigated in street paving (maybe the Bauhinia is a bit tougher in this respect).

The mulberries used for pergola/shade tend to be non-flowering/fruiting clone(s).
With Bauhinia, there is no issue with messy/staining seeds, and the flowers are lovely. The seeds could be a nuisance, but one could prune off the pods without too much effort.

Questions:
- Has anyone used Bauhinia this way? Comments?
- How should pruning (suitable for development of branch network over a 9 x 6m pergola) be done to have minimal impact on flowering?
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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JTh

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2011, 03:54:17 PM »
Are you sure they don't need water? According to what I read on Wikipedia, they wrote: 'Watering: Generously watering during summer; moderate moisture in winter.'
Retired veterinary surgeon by training with a PhD in parasitology,  but worked as a virologist since 1992.
Member of the MGS  since 2004. Gardening in Oslo and to a limited extent in Halkidiki, Greece.

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MikeHardman

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2011, 04:05:22 PM »
Thanks. Yes, I read that, too.
Doesn't quite gel with what I see on the streets in Cyprus, though.
...Unless the roots of all the trees (there are quite a lot of these trees in some parts) have found the water mains!
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 08:25:36 AM by MikeHardman »
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Alisdair

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2011, 05:58:16 PM »
Given good deep soil a bauhinia might not need much watering (they have deep searching tap roots), but Heidi Gildemeister does recommend at least occasional watering unless they are in really favourable sites. The leaves of the one that seems most often planted as a street tree (but never as far as I have seen in the hot south of Greece), Bauhinia variegata, drop if the tree is drought-stressed, perhaps making it less use as a shade tree for your pergola at the hottest driest times - but making the subsequent flowering look even more showy.
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

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MikeHardman

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 08:31:15 AM »
Alasdair,
Thanks, that's useful.
I note from Wiki: 'deciduous in the dry season', which goes along with your comment - and that might be enough to consign the idea to the trash can (I want to avoid a need for watering if possible).
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

Chantal

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2011, 11:18:41 AM »
I do love the Bauhinia tree, but, it is spiny, so I would avoid planting it close to a pathway. Perhaps, all species are not thorny. I have one that I don't know the species name. I was growing it on pot and wintering inside a cold greenhouse since 2006, but, as it is too big now, I decided, this spring to plant it in a very sheltered corner of the garden. We'll see what happens.
Chantal Guiraud
Montpellier-France
MGS Seed Coordinator

"The flowers of spring are winter's dreams told in the morning at the table of the angels" (Khalil Gibran)

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MikeHardman

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2011, 12:06:20 PM »
Good point, Chantal; thanks.
I had not noticed thorns/spines on the ones in Cyprus, but I will have a closer look...

A bit of Googling shows that several species of Bauhinia have spines/thorns, as illustrated by Engelmann (ed.) in Natürliche Pflanzenfamilien. Vol. III, 3; 1891 (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bauhinia_spp_spines_Taub38.png).
And the woody climber B. glauca is likely to have them, I guess.
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

Chantal

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2011, 09:09:50 AM »
I can remember now having seen several specimens in tropical areas as île de la Réunion or Mauritius island (I don't really remember, as I used to travel a lot) and it was planted as street plantation. They were trees with trunk and don't remember having seen thornes on the trunk. Perhaps higher on the small branches ?
Chantal Guiraud
Montpellier-France
MGS Seed Coordinator

"The flowers of spring are winter's dreams told in the morning at the table of the angels" (Khalil Gibran)

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Alevin

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2011, 08:00:02 AM »
Well, there are many with, and many without, spines. I would not use Bauhinia variegata though, because  even if the flowers are lovey (both the white one and the purple one) it has the unpleasant habit of a Cercis, let's say, to keep the hanging seedpods for ages, and they are not very good looking. What you really need is a summer flowering one, do you? In this case Bauhinia forficata (it does require some, but not a lot of water), with white   spidery flowers that are very elegant, would be you choice. B. blakeana is also wonderful, seldom without gflowers, it only sheds its leaves briefly in June and then puts them back and starts again flowering, but it does need summer irrigation.
The best one for mediterranean gardens is really the yellow flowered Bauhinia tomentosa - which stands drought, but is smaller, it is really  a shrub.
Alessandra - Garden Director- Giardini La Mortella, Ischia, zone 9-10

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John J

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2011, 10:00:32 AM »
Bauhinia variegata is very common as a street tree in Cyprus. I have grown several over the years, initially from seed taken from a street tree in Limassol, and have never found any with spines. I currently have 3 B. variegata and 1 of the white flowered variety, B. variegata 'Candide' and I agree that they can be a bit messy so need to be planted where the litter can be beneficial or at least not intrusive. I also have 2 B. acuminata and they really are spiny so care needs to be taken when positioning them. I did post a photo of their white flowers under Trees: Ornamental: Bauhinia acuminata which you can see by clicking here. Unlike the B. variegata that flowers in spring they wait until the hottest part of the year and flower in July/August.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 10:16:24 AM by Alisdair »
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ezeiza

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2011, 04:16:33 PM »
Bauhinia variegata is a natve tree here in South America. It is deciduous in winter and has many spines in the branchlets. In the main trunk and branches spines are scarce. It demands a lot of water in summer from the surrounding beds. I love the flat top, in African Acacia fashion and in flower is a great sight. Not much of a shade tree, rather open for it.

The idea of using this vigorous tree for a pergola is unbelievable. who could think of using an oak or a poplar for a pergola?

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MikeHardman

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2011, 05:22:19 PM »
In that case, it behaves differently in its native range compared with Cyprus.
I know quite a few specimens grown as street trees, hard-pruned (almost pollarded) at about 2.5m high. They put out many long stout stems from the top (just like mulberries trained for shade) and form a dense canopy.
I know other trees which have been hacked back several times, which have turned into very dense shrubs.
All these trees are unirrigated, so they go months without rain in summer (though the ones growing in streets could be tapping-into water pipes, septic tanks, etc., I suppose.)
Also, I wonder if we are really talking about the same tree. B. variegata, in the references I have found, is native to India and parts of SE Asia.
Given the similarity of vigour and stature of Bauhinia variegata and Morus alba/nigra, both as pruned and as mature unpruned trees, I find it unbelievable that you find it unbelievable :)
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Alevin

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2011, 07:32:49 PM »
Yes, Bauhinia variegata is definitely native to the far East - Asia I mean. However there are  - I read on the Annals of the Missouri Bot. Garden - 27 recognized species native to Central America, and  (according to the journal of National Bot. Gard. of Belgium and Royal Botanical Society of Belgium), 57 B. native to Brazil so it is quite possible that some confusion has arised between local species and introduced beauties such as the Asian one. Often identities of plants are swapped because of common names - call all bauhinias "orchid tree" and you are up for trouble.
Alessandra - Garden Director- Giardini La Mortella, Ischia, zone 9-10

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MikeHardman

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Re: Bauhinia for training over pergola?
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2011, 09:36:53 PM »
I posted here
Quote
I know other trees which have been hacked back several times, which have turned into very dense shrubs.
Now one of those plants (in Polis) has been hacked back again. It is almost leafless. The photo demonstrates how vigorously it shoots after hard pruning. Imagine all the branches before pruning - the shade was dense!
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England