Ormesby couple celebrate giant plants lovingly grown in their garden
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
Their garden is a tropical oasis, full of plants usually seen in far warmer climes than Ormesby.
The latest addition to Richard and Jan Howard's garden is a towering majestic beauty called an echium.
They have been growing the tall spiky plants for three years now.
The spires, festooned with blue flowers have rocketed to a massive 16ft (5m).
Mr Howard said: 'The bees just love them – they're beautiful. They have no scent at all which makes it a bit unusual.
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'You see them growing day by day. It is not until summer comes and they grow and it is just incredible.
'We started measuring around Easter time and they have grown 10ft (3m) since then.'
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The couple, who live in The Green, discovered the plants when they were on holiday in the Scilly Isles, and brought some cuttings back to plant at home.
The rugged and colourful plants are over three times taller than Richard who is 5ft 10ins and his wife, Jan, who is 5ft 2ins.
Some of the couple's other favourite plants in their garden include foxgloves and palm trees which they have been lovingly tending to for nearly 15 years.
Mr Howard added: 'Unfortunately people do not know too much about echiums.
'There were at least 20 babies now from where the original echium was growing.
'You have to protect them if there is a heavy frost but the winters are getting warmer.'
They have since given cuttings of the plants to relatives who are now growing their own.
Echium pininana are suited to sheltered borders. In its first year echium forms a low rosette of silver, hairy, spear-like leaves.
The following year it suddenly spurts into growth and produces a single 13ft (4m) high flower spike with blue, funnel-shaped flowers.
After flowering, the plant dies, but not before scattering its seeds.
In mild parts of the UK these may germinate where they land, but in colder areas seeds should be sown under glass in the springtime. The plants flower every second year, so sow seeds every year to ensure a continuous supply of blooms. Sustained temperatures of below -4C will kill it.
Cleve West, an enchium
enthusiast, described the
plant as spectacular.
'They are becoming increasingly popular in the UK thanks to our mild winters,' he said. 'The plant's foliage is handsome enough on its own in the first year but they rocket, and once it gets going, is out of this world.'