Towers of flowers at Echium World in Edwinstowe

Linda and Ray Heywood are running a plant nursery Echium World from their home in Edwinstowe. nmac-14-07-14 echium ce 1
Linda and Ray Heywood are running a plant nursery Echium World from their home in Edwinstowe. nmac-14-07-14 echium ce 1

A specialist garden nursery in Edwinstowe has been teaching TV gardening expert Alan Titchmarsh how to rear a towering breed of flower that can grow to an amazing 14 ft tall.

Echium World grows and supplies echium plants and specialises in the echium pininana variety.

Owner Linda Heywood started the home-based business with her husband Ray last year, and the couple have supplied plants to gardeners across the UK through their online shop, as well as the courtyard of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Linda (57) said: “I supplied echium plants to Alan Titchmarsh for his show garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. He has written an article in the July issue of Gardeners World magazine about how I advised him about growing our Echiums in his own garden.”

The gardening expert wrote: “Each year I’ve come home and tried to grow them outdoors myself. But despite growing them alongside a warm wall, and even wrapping them in fleece on very cold nights, they sadly always succumbed to the low temperatures of January and February and turned to mush.

“And then I had the good fortune to find Linda Heywood who told me exactly what I should do to get mine through the winter.

“It’s a technique I would recommend to you, and one I shall definitely be using in my own garden from now on.”

Linda and her husband grow them to a stage where they can send them out with advice and are now supplying second year plants.

She plants at this time of the year, then, at the signs of the first frost digs them out of the flowering bed and drops them into a big plant pot and keeps them in a conservatory over the winter. In April she re-plants them in the border where the can flower into giants.

She said: “They are amazing - once you see them you never forget them. If you have an echium in your garden you are the envy of your neighbours. They are really outstanding. They are a magnet for bees - which is brilliant for the environment.”

The plants, which are blue, white and pink, come from Tenerife, Spain and Portugal.

Linda said: “Gardeners are always looking for new ideas - but they’ve not always had much success. Certainly this year because of the mild winter they have become a feature. My technique was developed through trial and error.

“We are amateur gardeners who have picked up knowledge as we have gone along and we wanted to develop the hobby into a business.”

Linda (57) works for The Woodland Trust and Ray (65) has retired from teaching English in Quarrydale Academy in Sutton.

Linda said: “We are trying to promote North Notts! We need that profile for all small business.

“We need to send the message that we can do it in Nottinghamshire!”