Tropaeolum speciosum, Glory of the Highlands.
This hardy nasturtium is a perennial climber that has an exotic red flower. They are often grown to great effect through an evergreen conifer hedge, where they thrive and can easily reach a height of 3 metres in a season. This is a great way of adding summer colour and interest to your evergreen.
Glory of the Highlands dies back for the winter and new growth re emerges in spring from the roots.
It is well known that Tropaeolum speciosum can be tricky to establish however once you have it, it can be rampant. So don’t stand too still near it you might have problems!
For such an exotic looking plant, the roots are surprisingly hardy and can overwinter just fine, even in the Highlands of Scotland.
There are a lot of old references that say Tropaeolum speciosum is only hardy to about -5°C. This is not accurate and may have come about due to difficulties establishing it further south. It could also be because the younger plants can be more tender. It is now rated as H5 by the RHS, hardy down to between -15°C and -10°C. The large deep rooting tubers of established Tropaeolum speciosums, seem to carry it through the colder winters. There are a few of them growing well around Beauly which see winter temperatures drop to -15°C and occasionally below -20°C. There is one growing on a particularly cold spot through a yew on the hills overlooking Glen Cannich which, year after year, survives several weeks of snow and ice and the odd -20°C
The native habitat of Tropaeolum speciosum are the cool moist regions of South America. From the mountains of South Mexico to Southern Chile and Peru, it does so well in the Highlands as it enjoys similar cool wet summers and neutral to acid soil. It can be more difficult to establish South of the border and it’s success in Scotland has earned it the name ‘Flame of Scotland’ and also ‘Glory of the Highlands’.
It was introduced to Britain by Archibald Menzies a Scotsman from Perthshire who brought it back from Chile in 1795