May 14, 2012

Pride of Madiera, or at the least, the Pride of Worcester?

THE FUZZY HAIRS WHICH COVER ECHIUM FASTUOSUM, CAPTURES THE SETTING SUNLIGHT ON A COOL, SPRING NIGHT. THIS COMMON CALIFORNIAN ROADSIDE PLANT, IS RARELY SEEN IN NEW ENGLAND, BUT IT MAKES AN UNUSUAL AND SHOWY POTTED PLANT.

Don't laugh, you Californians! -  Look....having a Pride of Madeira, or Echium fastuosum in bloom.....in May...in New England, is kind of a big deal. 

Yes, it's a road side weed in Northern California, our little tower (or not so little, really at  5.5 feet) is still pretty exciting. At least it's exciting for the bees, wasps, butterflies and hummingbirds who swarm around it. It's pretty pathetic, all thin and stretched out, but no one here really notices that ( all due to its emergence in late February when light levels were still low), all I can say is that it is in full, glorious bloom, and  I'll take it for that. It's taken me many years to get this plant to successfully bloom after many failures from seed. I cheated, buying a mail order plant last spring, and potting it up in a giant pot for the summer. It takes two or three years for this biennial to bloom.  Here in New England, we can't expect much - nothing personal, it's just a climate thing - these large, showy Echium species are designed to thrive in cool. coastal areas like the Canary Islands, Portugal and of course,  Northern California. Bastards.


Most Echium have blossoms that are nectar rich, and tipping the color scale close to true blue, but, it's one of those odd plants with a color that is difficult to capture even with a digital camera. Most images of the blossoms look mauve, when they are purple and blue.


At last weeks' garden tour, this was one of the most popular plant, mostly because people didn't know what it was, or, they remember seeing them on holidays to coastal California.

ECHIUM FASTUOSUM - THE PRIDE OF MADEIRA


4 comments :

  1. Anonymous1:43 PM

    How did you overwinter it - dormant in cold storage or in a warm place?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I overwintered it in the cold greenhouse. It started to bud up in February, so it has an less than dense flower stalk. Still, the bees love it!

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  3. I promise I won't laugh! I would have loved to have grown one and got it to bloom when I lived on the east coast. Even though they are very common here I still sometimes pull over to take photos of impressive specimens. Even though they are usually listed as being annual, biennial or short lived they seem like perfectly hardy perennials. I've seen some as big as buildings that are surely quite old.

    I'm growing a 'Mr. Happy' from Annie's in my garden and have a bunch of seelings of E. pininana that I just potted into quarts. Hopefully I will have some very impressive bloom pictures next spring.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I over winter this in my cold greenhouse, but, in full sun. It is growing in pure garden soil ( no peat) as this species dislikes organic material such as that found in commercial potting soil It prefers poor soil.

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