festival of spring #9

Introduced into gardens before the 1600s, this plant from the Mediterranean soon escaped and became naturalised in the wild. Despite its non-native status, it is a good source of nectar from May to October for bees, butterflies and moths like the Hummingbird Hawk-moth.

This is Centranthus ruber var. coccineus. Often known as the red valerian, spur valerian, kiss-me-quick, fox’s brush, devil’s beard or Jupiter’s beard. It has good drought resistance; thrives on walls and in coastal gardens. And one of the best places to see it is growing on the walls of the Malakoff in St Ives, an open space that provides views of St Ives Harbour, Porthminster Beach and St Ives Bay.

It also occurs in a paler pink and white. It self-seeds easily and can look very pretty when left to naturalise in wilder areas of the garden.

I am going to join in with Dawn’s Festival of Spring which will last for 10 -12 weeks in celebration of this season.


  1. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Jude,
    your pictures make us want to visit Cornwall again, especially St Ives.
    We have a lot of red valerian here too. It’s like a weed.
    Wishing you a happy week and thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is very much a weed, but a pretty one. You wouldn’t want to be in St Ives at the moment, already it is very busy. I’m afraid a place that has become far too popular.

      1. Klausbernd says:

        What a pitty, dear Jude.

  2. Isn’t it pretty! I must look to see if I can grow it here.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Well it likes poor soil and sunshine – a bit of a weed really, but a pretty one.

  3. susurrus says:

    This always shouts ‘seaside’. I associate it with holidays in Llandudno, where it springs out from their rocky garden walls. When I see it growing away from the coast, it doesn’t have the same flair.

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