The flower and the glory for gar­dener

Stockport Times West - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE ROPER danielle.roper@men­ @Stock­port­news

AHAZEL Grove gar­dener has man­aged to cul­ti­vate a rare ex­otic plant that has not flow­ered in Eng­land for 72 years.

Kevin Pratt, 51, bought the strik­ing yel­low and red coloured peren­nial, Ti­tan­otrichum Old­hamii, from a nurs­ery, which has never been able to get the plant to bloom.

It has flow­ered in Scot­land, but the last time it was known to do so here was in 1942 at Kew Gar­dens.

The gar­dener of 30 years, who has paid up to £150 for un­usual plants in the past, said: “If some­one says a plant doesn’t flower in this coun­try then I just have to have a go.

“There isn’t a par­tic­u­lar grow­ing skill with this one, but it needs wa­ter­ing daily for around 10 months from Jan­uary to Oc­to­ber.

“If it dries out for one day you will lose the flower so you can’t go on hol­i­day or any­thing.”

The plant orig­i­nates from Tai­wan where its fox­glove-like flow­ers are found grow­ing on ver­ti­cal rock cliffs.

It is a mem­ber of the Ges­ne­r­iad fam­ily – Strep­to­car­pus – and although in bloom all year round in its na­tive land, is no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to make flower here due to our short grow­ing sea­son.

With an av­er­age pe­riod in bloom of just two weeks in this coun­try, the plant is grown inside a poly­thene tun­nel and wa­tered daily to mimic the warmth and mois­ture of its nat­u­ral sub-trop­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Dad-of-two Kevin doesn’t

‘If a plant is easy to grow, I’m not in­ter­ested’

mind the un­usu­ally large amount of at­ten­tion the plant re­quires.

He said: “If a plant is easy to grow, I’m not in­ter­ested.”

How­ever, his wife is not so sure. Kevin said: “My wife, Suzanne, moans at me about it but she’s stuck with me for 25 years.”

The green-fin­gered won­der has got a hand­ful of new plant projects for the next year or two but is keep­ing his lips firmly sealed about which ones.

He said: “I love rare plants from ob­scure parts of the world.

“I have a gar­den full of them but I never thought I would make this one flower.”

Kevin Pratt with berries to at­tract birds to the gar­den that houses his rare plants and (in­set) at the Tat­ton Flower Show

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