Human gender is most distinct, the differences highlighted by choice of clothing, mannerisms, hair styling and often outlook. However, the appellation male or female is not the whole story. The Japanese class certain plants as having male or female status regardless of their male and female flower parts.
The soft Red Pine (Pinus densiflora ‘Pendula’) found here in the Japanese garden at Elizabeth Park, Dubbo, is regarded a female as a type. The Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii) on the other hand is seen as male in its character. The Red Pine is soft in look and hardiness while the Black Pine is strong and vigorous.
Of course with humans it is hard to tie-up a type according to gender. The tough guy down the street may have a gentle side only obvious to his intimate associates. The ballet girl around the corner with a thin, soft, even fragile physique, will often have a determination and pain threshold exceeding her male counterparts. Plants are similar.
Introducing the climbing plant Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). It is soft in nature, having fine tendrils with delicate star-like creamy-white flowers and perfume worthy of Este Lauder, the women’s product brand for cosmetics; or perhaps Calvin Klein ‘Obsessed,’ or maybe Valentino ‘Uomo Acqua.’
There is a variety called T.j. ‘Variegatum’ with cream-margined leaves. The super girlie look is variety T.j. ‘Tricolour’ with pink thrown in for good measure on the leaf tips. It doesn’t even need a floral show as the foliage does it all: the white parts even seem to sparkle in the shade like a 2-carat diamond from Michael Hill, Prouds, or Angus and Coote.
Star Jasmin’s long botanic and exotic name refers to the neck of the seed which is very correct; not that anyone takes a second glance at this seed, which is, mind you, a hidden agenda for a world take-over bid. This evergreen climber from China, which can grow 6 metres in warm climates and flowers or colours-up in spring and summer, has been a garden favourite for decades. The small (dainty) star flowers contrast rather prettily with the dark, glossy green leaves.
While it relishes hot climates it has become the super cool choice for a groundcover. One glance at its ability to smother any weed-prone site has the effect of a Shimmer and Glow bag full of Body Scrub and Wash, complete with exfoliating gloves. The annual weeds don’t have a chance.
Suitable for trellises, fences or even a tub specimen, you can buy and plant it any time of the year, as you would use a tube of Covergirl Total Tease Waterproof Mascara. Different species T. asiaticum is tamer, not so assertive, and toned down like a roll-on of Dove deodorant.