I have chosen a selection of plants that mean something special to me to appear in the photo gallery below. You can click on a picture to get more information about the particular plant.
However there are some plants I find irresistible and which I grow and write about. Detailed descriptions will be found in my book, From the Ends of the Earth, with the pages designated. They will be updated at intervals.
When I first saw the red echium, Echium wildpretii, it was love at first sight; according to botanic description it is a biennial - but in my experience it is more of a triennial; if you can grow it and get it to set seed, you are in with a chance; but it is exceptionally temperamental to grow, none of the seed you buy comes true, only one nursery has seedlings, so no wonder you rarely see it around. In spite of many attempts I have only succeeded once in persuading it to produce the glorious, exotic, silver blue, silky foliage rosettes, crowned by the hundreds of brilliant vermillion florettes, which constitute its panicle of flowers - they did not set seed - but they were worth a lifetime of patience and anxiety - and I have not stopped there. There is a marvellous plant of this at Tregrehan, Par, Cornwall from May onwards. Pp1-3
Spanish missionaries in South America named the passionflower, seeing its filaments, anthers, sepals and petals all as parts of Christ's passion and introducing it to Europe in 1699. Passiflora caerulea is hardy but although the blue and white flowers are very beautiful it grows in an untidy way; my favourite is P.x exoniensis, which produces very large pink flowers in my cold greenhouse almost all the year round and is known as the Banana Passionflower - for the shape of its fruits. Pp 82-84
I have never liked fuchsias much - they have a sort of bogus plastic look about them, except for Fuchsia microphylla, which makes a small discreet bush covered year round with tiny scarlet flowers and leaves to scale; if a frost should daunt it temporarily it will swiftly recover making up for lost time with even more multiple minute blooms. Now I have discovered another - the tiniest and most un-fuchsia like fuchsia you can imagine.
Fuchsia procumbens or prostrata is a trailing species from New Zealand with very small heart shaped leaves on slender stalks; it flowers profusely, quarter inch greenish yellow tubes, pointing upwards - very erect - red at the base with green sepals tipped with purple, no corolla but with bright blue pollen on the stamens; it also produces quite large green seedpods covered with a plumlike bloom. You will find this plant, growing in the New Zealand section of The Lost Garden of Heligan nr Mevagissey, Cornwall, in late summer. They usually have plants for sale.