It comes as a shock to see a cosseted house-plant making a nuisance of itself, rampaging away, smothering other plants, and generally calling for a dose of weed-killer. The sweet little winter-flowering jasmine, J polyanthum, wears an air of nursery innocence with its Mabel Lucy Attwell little girl complexion. No one would suspect what a thug it can become – until they see how it has behaved over the past winter in a London garden.
It has mounted and straddled our neighbour’s wall, climbed the unpruned roses waving five feet above it, smothered the ivy and launched shoots long enough to reach the ground and root on our side. A seedling has appeared on the other side of our garden too. The smell is divine, but the threat is manifest.Flowering began in December and is just past its climax. Admittedly there have only been a few nights of frost, but the idea that this is a tender hothouse thing has become absurd.
On our recent visit to California we saw it seeding prolifically, smothering rose bushes and climbing trees; the prettiest picture, but rather alarming. We read plenty of scary things about climate change, but a jasmine attack is something new.