We get asked so many questions about flowers and plants here in the shop and if I don’t know the answer I will try my hardest to find it out!
A gentleman came in to the shop this week, on holiday on the Island from the UK and as he approached the counter he pulled a wilted bit of plant material out of his pocket…
“Can you tell me what this plant is please? It grows all over the Island and it is so beautiful I would like to buy some to take home and plant in my garden!”
It is at times like this that the knowledge I accrued during 4 years at college studying horticulture and training with the National Trust for Scotland leaves my head completely and my mind goes blank.
You know the plant I mean… it is sometimes red, sometimes pink, sometimes white, grows everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE on the Isle of Man, in walls, rooftops, lanes, driveways, gardens and hedges, anywhere with a minute bit of soil to grab hold of and if it is concentratd in a small area such as a lane, it smells of something akin to cat wee! But I could not think of the name, so I asked this gentleman to leave it with me and I would find out.
Enter ‘Google’! I typed in “red flower grows in walls on Isle of Man” and crossed my fingers…
I knew as soon as I saw the name I would recognise it and there it was… Valerian (aka Centranthus ruber)
So when the gentleman came back to the shop a while later I was able to tell him what I had found, to which he then asked whether I sold this plant in the Garden Centre. Unfortunately not… along with many plants that grow in abundance on the Isle of Man (Crocosmia being another popular request), if I tried to sell them in the Garden Centre people would accuse me of selling weeds!
It reminded me of an occasion when I worked at National Trust for Scotland Kellie Castle and an English tourist came up and asked if he could buy some of the wild garlic plants that were growing in the woodland… Buy some?? We sent him away with a bin bag full of the Stinking Rogers for free!
But I guess to a visitor to our pretty Island, some of the plants in our hedgerows, such as Fuchsia, Valerian & Crocosmia are more novelty to them and it is a nice thought that they would like to take a bit of our Island home with them.