Express & Star

Green fingered Mike brings Canaries home

Travelling abroad has been almost impossible over the last 15 months, so one green-fingered man from Bridgnorth brought a touch of the Canary Islands to his own back garden.

Mike Crump has successfully grown an 11ft Echium biennial shrub, usually found in the Canary Islands, in his garden

From the moment lockdown took hold in March 2020, Mike Crump planted an Echium biennial shrub in the garden of his home in High Street.

Now the plant, which is a native of the Canary Islands, has reached 11ft tall.

Mike said his neighbours have not been the only ones interested in the shrub he originally bought from Somerset.

"It has attracted some attention from neighbours because of its sheer size, but especially from bees with its plentiful supply of blue flowers," he said.

Mike Crump from Bridgnorth has successfully grown an 11ft Echium biennial shrub, usually found in the Canary Islands, in his garden

"It would not look out of place around some coastal regions such as north Somerset, where they are a feature, but you would see them in the Canary Islands where they really belong – it's unusual to survive so far inland in Britain."

Echium vary a lot in size and habit. They are biennials, completing their life cycle in two years.

After flowering, they scatter their seeds and die and self-seed readily in mild, sheltered parts of the UK, although they are unlikely to germinate in cooler regions.

Mike said: "They are difficult to obtain from garden centres. I obtained mine as a seedling from the National Trust shop at Dunster Castle, Somerset.

"It was covered with a thin fleece over the coldest part of the winter but has remained in the ground and not taken in.

"Throughout the spring and summer it grows very rapidly before the flowers open. Sadly, it will die after its flowering, but will hopefully set seed for some new plants to follow it."

In its first year the plant forms a low rosette of silver, hairy, spear-like leaves, and then in the second year it sends up a huge spike loaded with small blue flowers. It is extremely attractive to bees.

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