Pride of Madiera / Echium

Pride of Madiera / Echium.


We frequently speak about our herb gardens where some of the plants turn into small shrubs and bushes if they are happy where they are situated in the garden. One of these is Sage and is frequently referred to as a ‘Sage bush’ and can really go on for ever if looked after. It doesn’t need any special attention and its pruning can be by way of cutting off healthy pieces to prepare for the dried Sage frequently found in most kitchens. Now with Christmas just a few weeks away we will be thinking of that sage and onion stuffing for the Christmas turkey so get cutting off little bunches of fresh green leaves to hang up and dry ready for rubbing down the dried leaves into the fragrant ingredient used both in stuffing roast turkey or chicken as well as always having some in hand to add to home made sausage rolls.

Here we have another of those plants that is the easiest ever to propagate by a simple cutting just popped into the soil to take root either in a pot or directly into the ground. As always snip off half a dozen pieces to plant and you can be sure at least one will take root or may even surprise you with all taking root. Many of the topics written about here often start around the coffee table when someone bemoans the fact that they can’t find some very English ingredient on the supermarket shelves, in this case, Sage and onion stuffing so you can see for yourselves, everything has a solution, and even better when it doesn’t cost money!

Sage bush

Cutting back flowers

Pride of Madiera / Echium is probably an unusual flower to find in the garden but if you have one be sure to cut back all the old flower spikes to encourage it to fill out again into that wonderful shrub full of six foot tall blue flower spikes in the spring. At the moment the whole shrub is full of leaves making rosettes where the new flower spike will come. It doesn’t propagate quite that easily but take as many cuttings as possible and you may well find one or two will take root to be able to replace the original shrub when it dies back. It will need a good square metre piece of garden probably towards the back of a border because its height will over shadow all else. It is well worth the effort to encourage an Echium to grow in the garden just to see all those wonderful tall blue flowers.

“Air plant”

A newcomer to my garden is an ‘air plant’ I don’t know if this means that I have no corners left to plant up something new at ground level or am I being told that this bunch of dried looking leaves once installed needs no looking after at all. The air plant is of the Tillandsia or Bromeliad family, many of which I have seen in other people’s gardens simply hanging from a pergola or such with no obvious plant pot or means of watering.
When mature the bunches can be far larger than a football with its spike like leaves just clumped together. It only needs the occasional spraying during the really hot weather, maybe once a month, otherwise it lives off dew and dust my gardening book tells me. Well there is no shortage of dust and heavy dew at this time of year so let’s see how this new ‘air plant’ survives if I do what I am told and simply leave it alone. As I frequenly say, there is always something new to learn about gardening in Majorca and this type of plant is certainly a first for me.


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