Portofino, Cap Ferrat, St Tropez – when you think of the Mediterranean you immediately picture Bougainvillea. It flowers abundantly there, and climbs to a height of 12 metres. With the nursery-grown variety you choose the size. It’s a herbaceous ornamental shrub with long tendrils that grow with beautiful nonchalance and bloom with clouds of flowers in purple, violet, red and pink. There are also white, yellow and orange varieties, but these are more rare. It’s a real container plant that likes to scramble up a wall or pergola, although it can also successfully hang and twist in a basket. Bougainvillea flowers from late spring until September.
Also beautiful at night
Bougainvillea is a member of the Nyctaginaceae (four o’clock) family, and grows in the tropics and subtropics of South America, particularly Brazil. It was introduced to Europe at the start of the 19th century, where can particularly be found in countries around the Mediterranean.
- Bougainvillea’s brightly coloured appearance is due to the bracts, which resemble paper. The actual flowers are less eye-catching.
- The first European to describe the plant was … a woman. Botanist Jeanne Baré disguised herself as a man in order to get on board a ship, and travelled with the Louis Antoine de Bougainville expedition to South America.
- In the garden Bougainvillea plays the symbolic role of protector, thanks to the robust thorns that grow on the branches.