With the rains, the Allamanda blanchetii has turned the city into a riotous sea of pink

They are blooming in a riot of pinks and cerise, falling over front garden walls in various parts of the city with the late advent of the rain. Apart from the flowers, one can also enjoy watching the sunbirds pop in and out sipping nectar from the trumpet-shaped flowers.

“These are garden flora, a native of tropical Brazil called the Allamanda blanchetii,” says Poornima Kannan who works as Communication Consultant Unnati, an NGO.“I have an Alamanda creeper in my garden and it attracts sunbirds, the scaly breasted munia and tailor birds. They come for the nectar in the flowers and for the dried branches, from which they collect nesting material. I leave the dried branches for them, rather than clean up the vine.”

Earlier, back in the 80s and 90s the only variety of the Allamanda which grew in Bangalore were the trumpet shaped, bright yellow blooms. They grew in most Bangalore homes, either creeping across arches or along the front walls of bungalows, blooming profusely through the year. We were warned by our parents and the mali never to pluck the blooms and let the milky white sap dribble on our fingers. It was poisonous we were cautioned and it is safer to wash your hands after working with the plant.

Thelma Cardoza who still owns a lovely and large garden on Ware Road believes the pink variety of today are, “Blushing beauties gazing rapturously at his majesty, the sun!”

“I grew up in Langford Town and all the old houses had a creeper on their compound walls, or as an arch over the walk-in gate as opposed to the larger gate for cars,” says Prema Rajan reminiscing about the plant which is an old Bangalore favourite. “My grand uncle had it in their home on Cornwell Road behind Baldwin Girls School, in a lovely yellow.”

The vine grows without too much effort and is a vigorous climber, but seems to thrive better if planted directly in the soil and it does need direct sunshine. If kept in the shade, the plant grows with great abandon, with lots of leaves and no flowers appear. So plant your vine wisely and in a sunny spot.

Caroline Radhakrishnan who lives in Fraser Town says, that she occasionally sees bunches of these in the compounds of houses when she drives past Dacosta Layout. “They remind me of the Morning Glory that I used to love as a child, except these are richer in hue and appear less delicate.”

These showy flowers add beauty to the garden and apartment blocks and you can buy your own vine from the Lalbagh nursery or any of the roadside nurseries. To check if you have green fingers, just clip several brown skinned runners off a friends vine, trim to six inch bits and stick into the ground.

In this rainy weather you might be lucky and grow your own Allamanda!