Erysimum – A symbol of faithful devotion.
Also known as the Wallflower and my Dad’s favourite plant. I recall as a child us buying them from the local grocers or hardware shop, bare rooted in bunches that were crudely tied together with elastic or string, and taken home to push into the heavy clay soil with grubby hands. A happy memory of one way in which I learnt how to grow plants. I still to this day always plant up an Erysimum with a smile and still to this day my Dad gets excited by them in his spring garden.
There are of course lots of Dads at Kernock Park Plants and I dedicate this week’s blog to the faithful devotion of fathers. Kernock Park Plants was of course the passionate dream brought to life in 1981 of one such father; Richard Harnett. His son, Bruce, now sits at the Managing Director helm guiding the good ship Kernock from the windy Cornish hillside, and Chris manages the InstaPlant team, they too are fathers themselves. In fact, KPP is filled with fathers and sons, some working here together along with plenty of dads with little or not so little ones at home. And just like a father, the trusty Wallflower shines through wind and rain like an upright stalwart.
Taking their generic name from the Greek world erysio, Erysimums are native to countries far and wide across Central and Southern Europe; the Canary Islands; Mediterranean Africa; the Middle East; Asia to Western China and even North America. It is thought that these plants occupied northern Eurasia before the two continents divided 100 million years ago. They have long been documented in history; the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society from 1838 refers to Erysimums and Wallflowers and Robert Herrick, Writer (1591-1674), immortalised the Wallflower in a tale about the Earl of March’s daughter who had fallen for a nobleman from a rival clan. They planned to elope but she was locked away in a tower and fell to her death amongst a patch of Wallflowers. The broken-hearted nobleman was left forever wandering through the land wearing a Wallflower sprig for the rest of his days.
Versatile plants colonising varied geographic environments and eco-systems, some are found nestled in sand dunes, some like coastal locations, scrub, rocky mountains, hidden in the crevices of limestone walls at medieval castles, some are found surviving winters in cold, blowy New York City, and by stark contrast, some on the volcanic slopes of mt. Trede in Tenerife – now you wouldn’t expect to find such a beautiful flower to flourish in such acrid conditions. But that really is this plant all over..shining brightly just as everything else is slow to start in spring or fading in autumn. Actually this gives a good picture of just how adaptable they are and what conditions they will thrive in. They hate woody, marshy, damp, water-logged, acidic soils, but they love neutral/alkaline, well-drained soil in sun/part shade.
Probably one of the best spring bedding plants which also suits containers, and the alpines are perfect for rock gardens. As adventurous in their magnificent splash of colour as primroses and more showy than any other spring flowering plant. They are stunning when traditionally planted up next to tulips, especially dark coloured ones and wonderful as a cut flower, as they last for weeks.
Erysimums have low leafy stems, with many braches, and undivided often scallop-toothed leaves. With elegant four petaled flowers on lengthy racemes that seem overcrowded with blooms. Not just a spring starter, if deadheaded regularly they will flower all summer long and some varieties go well into the early frosts, brightening up boarders with their eye-catching mass of colours when other plants are faltering or only just getting started. You can help extend their life with a mid-summer haircut, cutting into the foliage which keeps them vigorous and from going leggy and woody.
Here is a selection taken from our plentiful range of beautiful Erysimums found in our current catalogue:
Now is a great time to get your orders in for some of these plants to be delivered early next year, you may also find some of them on our current surplus list.
Kernock Park Plants Ltd