A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

  Saturday 12 July 2003
Hardenbergia violacea Botanical illustration of Hardenbergia from the ANBG.
Left: A winter, foggy morning and the Hardenbergia violacea outside my window, Above, an (ANBG) botanical print by Edward Minchin, published in 1862 as Hardenbergia monophylla.
Hardenbergia in the mist 

The name is pronounced, as the Plants database informs, "hard-en-BERG-ee-uh". It's also known as False Sarsaparilla, Purple Coral Pea, Happy Wanderer, Snake Vine, but I'll just call it Hardenbergia. And add the violacea because this variety is violet (there are other shades and a white variety).

It was named after Franziska, Countess von Hardenberg, who was the sister of Baron Carl AA von Hugel. Franziska was apparently a '19th century Australian patron of botany'. The 'apparently' is that's all I can find out about her. There is a visit recorded by Baron Charles von Hugel in 1834 and it turns out that this is the same man, Baron Charles (Carl, Karl) Alexander Anselm von Hügel (1795-1870) who was an "Austrian soldier, diplomat, courtier, horticulturist and scholar" and somewhat of a botanist. (I'd hoped to find a link to an earlier Harden namesake but other than some memory of being told that there was a German ancestor in the clan, the Harden's I'm descended from, probably took their name from somewhere in the English countryside where there was a Hare's Den.) The von Hugel story is much more interesting. Franzika's brother Carl features in that period of Victorian (late 1800's) history where exploration was the role of gentlemen, but the Baron von Hugel you're likely to have heard about is the theologian  called Friedrich (1852-1925).

The False Sarsaparilla name comes from a belief that the roots were similar to sarsaparilla and could be ground to make the syrup used for cordials. One of the native food books says however that you can make a drinkable scented tea from the crushed leaves.

We planted potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) and Hardenbergia along the trellis to hide the aluminium garage shed that replaced the hedge on the block next door. The plants struggled, one shriveled up and died despite the sprinkler drip system we put in. We replanted and although we had water restrictions, this winter's flowering has been a delight. It's a colour to suit the foggy mornings we've been having, the purple flowers seem to glow in it. I'm told I have to cut them back hard in summer but the leaves are now forming a perfect screen, so I'll be doing it reluctantly.


It all comes around in circles. Friedrich von Hugel wrote an apparently famous religious treatise on St Catherine of Genoa and Purgatory, and was part of the Catholic modernist movement. He influenced Evelyn Underhill who wrote extensively on Christian Mysticism, some of which I delved into in an earlier life. If you've never read her work, start with the BBC talks she gave here. Does this have anything to do with foggy mornings and flowers? Probably.

  Fred Harden ©2003 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu

Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden