A favorite pub quiz question is "What does BMW stand for". The answer is something like Bavarian Motor Works. I have also read that a senior marketing executive of the company once claimed it stood for "Beat Mitsubishi Worldwide". Well last week's edition of Gardener's Question Time came up with another answer. It seems that the Rhodochiton Volubile is commonly known as BMW - or Black Man's Willy. The expert panellists discussed at length how to care for this tender plant - and it seems to have caused a bit of a rumpus.
The Reader's Digest encyclopedia of garden plants describes the Rhodochiton Volubile thus - 'The maroon to purple tubular flowers are flared abruptly at the mouth, and hang down from slender stems. Each flower hangs within a bowl-shaped, red-purple calyx. The dark green leaves are ovate and sometimes slightly lobed.'
Panellist, Anne Swithinbank made reference to 'hardening off' these tender plants, and warned that they would 'shrivel up' in cold weather. When the presenter asked another panellist named Bob Flowerdew (absolutely true) for his opinion, he replied "I've never seen one close up, and not that colour!". Anne Swithinbank then said "I've never seen one in my life. They don't like the cold and as you can imagine they shrivel up and look very unhappy. They need a good long growing season before potting them up and potting them on and eventually hardening them up." Now you know. My BMW will never seem quite the same again.