Step into a sun-drenched haven, where towering spires of sapphire pierce the sky, their tips adorned with a crown of vibrant cobalt blooms. This isn't a mirage, but the captivating reality of the Echium pininana, a subtropical gem gracing gardens even in the heart of the UK.
Hailing from the volcanic slopes of La Palma in the Canary Islands, this monocarpic perennial, meaning it flowers spectacularly once before gracefully bowing out, isn't your average garden dweller. Nicknamed the "Tree Echium" or "Giant Viper's Bugloss," it stuns with its architectural prowess, soaring up to 15 feet in just a few years. Its sturdy, branching stems unfurl a cascade of leathery, deep green leaves, adding a touch of tropical flair to any space.
But the true showstopper lies in the sky. Come summer, the Echium pininana erupts in a dazzling display of sapphire blue flowers, clustered densely at the apex of each branch. Imagine hundreds of tiny trumpets, each brimming with vibrant nectar, beckoning a symphony of bees and butterflies. The sight is nothing short of breathtaking, a burst of exotic beauty against the backdrop of a temperate garden.
While its origins might suggest otherwise, the Echium pininana is surprisingly adaptable. It thrives in well-drained soils and basks in the sun's warm embrace, tolerating mild frosts and even brief spells of colder weather. With a bit of winter protection, this Canary Island charmer can grace UK gardens with its otherworldly presence.
Echium pininana 'Pink Fountain'
CC3.0 Derek Harper
Taming the Echium:
Growing your own Echium pininana is an adventure in itself. Sow the seeds in spring, mimicking the warm, dry conditions of its native home. Once established, provide ample sunshine and well-drained soil, replicating its volcanic perch. Remember, this isn't a plant for the faint of heart; its fast-growing nature and eventual demise demand a certain acceptance of impermanence. But what it lacks in longevity, it more than makes up for in sheer, breathtaking grandeur.
Echium pininana 'Blue Steeple '
A Touch of the Tropics:
So, if you're yearning for a taste of the exotic, a brush with the extraordinary, consider inviting the Echium pininana into your garden. This rare subtropical gem isn't just a plant; it's a conversation starter, a burst of unexpected color, and a testament to the beauty that can bloom even in the most unexpected places. Embrace the challenge, savor the ephemeral splendor, and let the Echium pininana paint your garden with a touch of the tropics.
Echium pininana is available throughout the year at Exotic Earth Plants, generally as Echium 'Blue Steeple' and Echium 'Snow Tower'. Occasionally we may have Echium pininana 'Pink Fountain ' . Check the online shop for more info: