My Plant of the Centenary

It might be assumed that by having an Allium flower for my profile picture throughout blogland, YouTube, garden, bird & wildlife forums that it would be my plant choice when joining other bloggers with some fun nominations ahead of this year’s RHS Chelsea Centenary Show’s picks for a ‘Plant of the Centenary’. Being honest, I had never heard about this until Veg Plotting mentioned it last week…

”There’s plenty of beavering away happening with the special preparations required for this year’s RHS Chelsea Centenary Show. These include Roy Lancaster and his crack team of experts pondering and cogitating over their shortlist of nominations for ‘Plant of the Centenary’. They have the task of selecting just one plant introduced per decade the show’s been running. These will be exhibited in the Great Pavilion in a similar way to ‘Plant of the Show’ in previous years. ”

Veg Plotting blog, 27th February 2013

I instantly knew which plant would be my choice! Pre blog this one wouldn’t even have been in the running but those who read my garden blog prequel will understand why it is now. My nomination for Plant of the Centenary is…

The perennial wallflower: Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve

Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve flowers through frost 🙂

Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve flowers through snow 🙂

Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve flowers and grey-green foliage lights up partial shade 🙂

Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve thrives in a sunny gravel area and gets noticed by butterflies 🙂

Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’s profusion of flowers swinging on tall stems have been a popular
food stop for butterflies and photo & video stop for this delighted garden blogger 🙂

Having such a long flowering period makes Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve a great garden pick for the gardener with the added bonus of being good for wildlife too. Since blogging I’ve become aware of how valuable our plant choices can be for wildlife and how we need to do all we can to help species in decline. In real terms, in looking after bees and butterflies we are looking after our planet.

We need bees, which also feed on Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve, to pollinate our food crops which is probably fairly widely known. However, pre blog I had no idea that data from butterfly surveys could help scientists in their quest for understanding the rate of climate change. Butterflies are responding in changes to our weather and it is now known that they are moving north.

Okay, so I’ve only one tiny reservation in my plant choice and that is that Erysimum is not native to the UK (I’m certain some natives will be in the choices from the RHS) but that’s all. It’s not an invasive species but is a species fairly drought tolerant so they tick more boxes for me.

I have been reading that Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve only lasts for a few years and that heeled softwood cuttings taken in Spring or Summer would be a good investment to keep this plant going in the garden. I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve had my first plant a few years now and its faced some pretty cold winters so the claim of fully hardy down to -15 deg C holds plus perhaps a little colder. Again, that all gets more Brownie points from me 🙂

So that’s my nomination chat for Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve almost complete except for one final set of images through a new video showing butterflies feeding on it. I love this plant for its evergreen foliage and clusters of small flowers up its stems and its movement and colour blowing in the breeze. It greats me at my front door when I leave and come home and if I were to do another series of plants to take to my desert island Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve would be top of the list 😀

Butterflies feeding on Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve,
video 1:15 with gentle background music, try 720p HD quality.

What would your ‘Plant of the Centenary’ be? Head over to Veg Plotting to join in 🙂

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in March 2013.

15 thoughts on “My Plant of the Centenary

  1. I am not familiar with this plant. It is beautiful and the way you describe it makes me want to hunt down a plant or two to try.

  2. A lovely plant Shirley. I find my garden soil a but too much for this beauty. I've tried it on a couple of occasions. In the short time it survives its certainly very attractive to numerous insects.
    Great choice of plants!

  3. I have two bowles that are humongous! It is so difficult to keep them under control…so I made cuttings…now I've got to get the courage to remove the parents! Perhaps I will have to find another place of them…I can't toss them out! This is their 2nd or 3rd year…non stop!!

  4. Don't think this plant is available over here, and news to me, there was a perennial wall flower. Thanks Shirl, will do some research!!

    Beautiful photos and video.

    As for tulips…after flowering, allow to dryout under the soil ..like under a maple tree whose roots suck most of the soil from the ground…they don't like much wet after they flower. Only advice I can offer except for the usual. I think, Ballerina would go beautiful with your Bowles.;-)

  5. I was given some prunings of this plant in the Autumn which I potted up and they now have buds forming. Can't wait to plant out and brighten up the garden.

  6. Hi Shirley – thanks for joining in 🙂

    I love this perennial wallflower too. Mine lasts 3-4 years, but manages to flower constantly during that time, so I don't mind replacing it. My background pic on my PC is a photo of this flower with a humming bird hawk moth dancing attendance. I hope we'll have a warm enough summer soon so I have this visitor again.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed your 5 questions (though I thought I'd left a comment, must have imagined it) and seeing how your garden has changed from pre-blog until now. I don't think mine has changed as dramatically as yours and I didn't have the photos to illustrate my changes, so I dipped out on that one!

    It's been a lot of fun having these memes to chase away the winter blues. I already have an idea for next year, which I've noted down so it doesn't get forgotten 🙂

    And a HUGE thank you for Following t'blog 😀

  7. Hi Shirl, you've chosen a great plant but I don't think it qualifies as it was named after Bowles in 1854 so not an introduction from the last century. Christina

  8. You have 'talked up you book' fantastically well and your pictures are superb and very convincing! I do find its achilles heal really is the fact that old plants do not age graciously! I agree about taking cuttings. I often root my own by sticking little bundles direct in the ground in late September. I have found over the years that they reliably root.

  9. I always think of England when I think of wallflowers. I have tried growing some, but I can't say I was very successful. I just love the name wallflower, and yours is quite pretty. It will be fun to find out which plant the experts decide upon!

  10. Good choice! Hard to imagine a harder working plant really. I've not got any here, something I really must rectify, it will be perfect for the border of the kitchen garden where it will draw in the pollinators. I also really like the idea of seeing it with "Ballerina", which is my favourite tulip. Mmm….

  11. Your commenter Angie said exactly what I was going to so I won't repeat it. I was really disappointed because I planted it for the butterflies. It certainly looks happy in your garden though. Lovely to see my favourite butterfly, the Red Admiral 🙂 Lovely photos and video.

    Have a lovely weekend Shirley 🙂

  12. Hello again everyone, thanks for all your comments 😀

    Lisa, ah… I wonder if you will find it in Indiana 🙂

    Angie, ah… now I did read somewhere it didn’t like too rich soil and it doesn’t get it in my location. Thanks 🙂

    Motormouth t, ah… interesting to hear, mine hasn’t outgrown its space but I need to get sorted with cuttings this year to see how they go 🙂

    Brenda, ah… pre blog I had no idea there was a perennial wallflower either! Thanks, ah… the drying out might be the problem. Maybe I should just lift, dry out and replant the following year. I tried Ballerina but lost it, great idea with bowles. Perhaps mice eat mine?

    Li, ah… great to hear! Although I want to try cuttings, I’ll probably also do as VP mentions below and feel happy to buy a new plant also is this one earns its keep 😀

    VP, ah… you are most welcome! I agree, I don’t mind replacing mine either but always like to try cuttings too (often giving away plants). A great image for your desktop! Happy that you caught the 5 questions – it was fun. Oh yes, my garden shapes and plant choices are way different now and pre blog and digital camera I still took heaps of photos so in my case it was hard getting down to just a few! The memes have been fun even though just a few joined in – it really is about mixing things up at a quiet time. Ah… like Karen, I will remember to remind you 😉 Ah… now, I thought I was following your blog and when I didn’t see your post come up then I realised I wasn’t. I use my phone to get an overview and on my blog use blog lists with post titles (where you are) to keep up with everyone. Late to the party 😉

    Christina, ah… thanks for the date, I searched unsuccessfully for quite a while to get dates and info on Bowles’. As VP suggested it was to be a fun one, I still went with my instant first choice and loved searching through my images of it. It will be interesting to see the RHS list and their reasoning 🙂

    Roger, thanks! Yes, I hear you on not aging thing but I’m happy enough to compost it and get a new one when that time comes up – it really is a value for money plant. Ah… that’s a good tip on the cuttings – it’s always good to hear of successes. I’d take a guess that this wouldn’t work here with our colder temps but I might give it a try non the less – thanks 🙂

    HolleyGarden, you’re right, it will be fun finding out the official list at the Chelsea flower show in May. Funnily enough, I always associate wallflowers with the spring bedding displays by local councils and on seeing it there (not being a bedding plant fan) would never have considered ever having it in my garden. This perennial plant is quite different 🙂

    Janet, absolutely – a real hard worker! Ah… I hope you find the perfect place for it – you could always get more than one plant 😉

    Jan, aw… that’s a shame that Bowles’ won’t grow with you 🙁 Thanks – for the lovelys too 😉

Leave a Reply