Lonicera (Honeysuckle) lon-i-SE-ra
The native honeysuckle, or woodbine, is probably our most exuberant wildflower. In early summer, country lanes are saturated with its perfume, and its brightly coloured flowers are an unmistakable sight. According to Shakespeare, Titania slept under ‘luscious woodbine’, Milton described it as ‘flaunting honeysuckle’ and for Keats it occupied the ‘summer thrones’.
The genus to which our native honeysuckle belongs is Lonicera, which contains about 180 species, over half of which are found in China and the rest distributed around Europe, North America and northern India. Although the flowers of the shrubby honeysuckles are often highly scented, they are paltry compared to the flamboyant flowers of the climbing species.
Honeysuckle vines are easy to grow, vigorous, heat-tolerant, and nearly indestructible. The flashy and fragrant flowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies all summer long. The resulting fruit of the flowers will provide a fall treat for your local songbirds as well. The most common use is to allow Honeysuckle vines grow along a trellis, fence, arbor, or other framework, but Honeysuckle can also be grown without support as a ground cover or used for erosion control. The vines will bloom heavily in spring and to some extent throughout the summer. Many varieties of Honeysuckle will thrive in containers as well.