Saturday, 10 May 2008

ECHIUM at last !

I have longed for this plant for quite some time. I have never succeeded with germinating the seeds (ok, I tried once only and maybe the seeds were not that good :-) Recently I stumbled upon this stunning plant again on Gintoino's lovely Portuguese garden blog 'Jardim com gatos'. You can see why he calls them the Pride of his garden (rather than Pride of Madeira, one of the plant's common names). And just when I'd forgotten about it, it popped up in front of me in the nursery the other day (the first time I have ever seen it for sale as a container plant in these areas). I don't think I need to mention my excitement. I've always had a thing for perennials that bore such dramatic, towering, upright spikes ( Eremurus, Echium, Verbascum etc. ) and any variety of Euphorbia. It's funny how in certain areas they practically grow alongside the roads as wild plants, and I had waited for years till they've even arrived in my nursery, tagged as a rare and very expensive plant (for a short-lived perennial).

Being native to the Canary islands and Madeira, they are quite drought-resistant and thrive in hot, sunny conditions. This would be just perfect for the Mediterranean part of my country, but since I garden in a continental zone, the severe winters could do some damage to it. From what I have read, the danger is not so much in how severe the frost is, but more the length of time it lasts for. And this is quite a normal occurrence around here. Nevertheless, I think I have found the best place possible for it, protected by a southern wall, in the driest part of the garden, where most of the tender plants have survived, and where I also successfully grow Fig trees, the Chusan palm tree, Passion flowers etc.

The cultivar I have stumbled upon is Echium webbii, which is shrubby in the same way as Echium candicans (fastuosum), its famous relative, but its supposed to be somewhat more hardy, more richly colored and a more compact grower. It was named after Philip Barker Webb(1793-1854), famous English botanist and traveler.

Family: Boraginacae
Other names: Blue-Devil, Blueweed, Viper's Bugloss, Tower of Jewels
Habitat: La Palma, Canary islands (an endemic plant there)

5 komentari:

garden girl said...

How exciting to find a hard-to-find plant you've been lusting after! I hope your Echium has a long healthy life in your garden Violet.

sisah said...

Similar to you I tried germinating seeds like you did and never succeeded :-) but I think it was E. wildpretii (which is biennial by the way)
I also like experimenting with plants that are not really for my garden. But I think, if you find a way to bring them over our sometimes strong winters ( wet autumns) they might survive. I was successful with another subtropical plant (Romney coulteri), which grows in my garden for the fifth year now.

zvrk said...

You lucky girl!

gintoino said...

Oh, I'm so happy you found it! Echiums are such wonderful plants.I hope that one grows well in your garden :-)
(I can try and get you some of my Echium seeds if you want)

Viooltje said...

I'm quite happy to. I hope it will reward me with some spectacular spires next year.
(thanks for the lovely offer, but I have already purchased some E.candicans seeds on eBay just prior to finding this one in garden center;
I didn't germinate any yet, but I have tried with only a few, so I won't give up that easily. If I don't succeed, I'll get back to you LOL; I'm always up for seed exchange, I have been doing it for years so if you're interested in any of my seeds, do tell anytime, and never mind how clumsy I am, I'll always try to get some.


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