Is this the tallest garden flower in West Sussex?

A giant flower found in a West Sussex front garden could well be the tallest in the county.

Tuesday, 6th June 2017, 2:27 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:28 am
Jean St John and Val MacQuarrie with the echium flower. Picture: Stephen Goodger

Val and Don MacQuarrie from Wenban Road in Worthing are the proud owners of the lofty bloom, called echium candicans, which is at least 16-feet high – the same height as their cottage – and could be even taller, prompting them to name it the tallest garden flower in the town, and potentially the county.

Don, 75, said: “Apparently it is known as the Pride of Madeira, but we reckon it is the Pride of Worthing.

“Normally, you would see these flowers around banana trees and coconut trees so we are bringing a bit of the exotic to Worthing.”

Jean St John and Val MacQuarrie with the echium flower. Picture: Stephen Goodger

Since being given the flower over a year ago by her daughter, who lives in Ambrose Place in Worthing, Val has gotten up each morning at 6am to tend to it, and has watched it transform from a one-foot-tall sprout into its current huge form.

Val, who has lived in her cottage since 1983, said there was no secret behind her towering flower – just some tender loving care: “I don’t do an awful lot to it to be honest; they don’t need an awful lot if you are in a warm area like us.

“I do give it some plant food, but not every day. It just seems to have burst into life all of a sudden.”

The couple are considering contacting the Guiness Book of World Records to see if it is a record-breaker, after reading an article in the Daily Mail in which a Devon man proclaimed to have the tallest echium in Britain – despite it being a comparatively puny 14-feet tall.

Jean St John and Val MacQuarrie with the echium flower. Picture: Stephen Goodger

According to what she had read, the green-fingered gardener believed the plant will continue to grow, prompting her to have a Frankenstein moment.

“Have I created a monster?” she joked, before saying: “The flower goes into a very thin point at the top, and ours has not got that yet.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, the echium candicans is an evergreen plant with coarsely hairy leaves and funnel-shaped flowers which bloom in dense spikes in the summer months.

The average height of these plants are between four and eight-feet-tall, and take one or two years to reach maturity.

Echium comes from the Greek word ‘echis’, meaning viper, due to the spotted stem which resembles a snake.

If you think you have a bigger flower, contact the paper on the telephone number found at the bottom of the website.