The flower and the glory for gardener
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