Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Echium pininana

These are plants which people love or hate. I love them, I would probably not be blogging about them if I didn't! They are a talking point, the stems reaching up to 4 metres, with a mass of blue flowers in early summer. We have two this year, there were more last year, I think the picture was taken the year before last. Next year, we should have many more, as we have lots of plants at the stage where they are a rosette of bristly leaves, and we have many tiny plants, which we sell for the Home of Hope in Zambia or give away, as well as building up our collection of the plants for the future. Sadly, one of them this year has taken a bashing in the recent winds. Simon fixed it carefully to the posts in the hedge with a couple of pairs of tights. His request for tights was scrutinised of course! The stems of flowers are much thicker than in the picture this year. One interesting but obvious fact once you know it, is that they are related to the borage plant. Similar colour flowers, and rough, feathery feel to leaves. Makes sense when you know!

Some facts about the echium, adapted from the internet:
'Half-hardy biennial/triennial, native to the Canary Islands. In its first year, Echium pininana does little more than put out a large rosette of bristly leaves. In its second, or third, year, however, it sends up a thick, fast growing, tapering stem, up to 4m (just over 13 feet) high, thickly clothed with green leaves and thousands of small blue flowers. If it has support and shelter, it can be very impressive, the talk of the neighbourhood even.

Echium pininana is said to grow best in the UK in a southern maritime situation, but plants have been known to thrive as far north as Yorkshire. If you have free draining soil, and somewhere sunny and sheltered to grow it, it's worth a go. '

Very attractive to bees and hoverflies. Sun and shelter are essential. Well drained, light soil. Dislikes wet clay. Half hardy in the UK - needs all the sun and shelter it can get.
Maintenance - little needed, as this plant traditionally grows in poor soil, though you may need to dig in grit if you are on a clay soil. Will probably need support. Protect the crown from excess wet in winter or it may rot off.

The stems and leaves are quite bristly, so you may want to wear gloves if you handle it, especially when removing the plant once it has died and dried out a bit.
Propagation - Collect seed in autumn after flowering and sow indoors from late winter to spring. Will self-seed. '

Monday, June 11, 2007


The hedges are looking lovely, full of sweet smelling honeysuckle and foxgloves everywhere. The thrift has nearly gone now, which is my favourite, so I always feel a little sad when it finishes, but there is always something of interest.

Our spring offers, three nights for two with suppers at the normal price, have been a huge success. The offer (check the specials page for full details), is available until the end of June, and there is some availability, so do give me a ring or email if you are considering a break in Cornwall.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Hello, this is Ted, The Kat riting. I hav bene ewesd to having starf to arsk for mi fud. i am akkustomd to getting owt ov bed wen the uthers hav finerlli got the fud arranjed, and pushing them owt ov the way and eting as much as i wont. sinse Tibbi and Sidnee dide, i hav no won to arsk for the meles i nede, and fined miself hewmeoliated tu hav to arsk miself. this is not satisfaktori. i nede starf. dus eniwun hav eni iders wot i kan du?

thanc ewe.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Pets as Therapy

Many people lose contact with cats and dogs when they move into a care home or go into hospital or other institutional setting for whatever reason. Contact with animals is known to have many health benefits and research is increasingly showing these benefits. Pets as Therapy is an organisation which matches up people and organisations with animals assessed as having suitable temperaments to provide a taster of that contact once more. They provide insureance for visits and also offer more specific therapeutic input for eg. people with phobias of cats or dogs.

I visit a care home in Bodmin, approximately once a fortnight. Sky, our border collie, loves these visits, she knows where we are going and gets very excited as we approach. The residents love to see her, many talk of pets they have lived with, some get a little exercise playing with Sky, and the smiles and laughter increase through the visit. If anyone is fearful of her, we just pass by gently. The staff love her too, and I enjoy the visits. So, smiles and joy all round. and, as I am a volunteer, I do not have to fill in any forms, go to meetings or supervise anyone, as I used to when i worked in the NHS!

Link to PAT - www.petsastherapy.org