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.

32 Comments Add yours

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Love the red of the centranthus against that perfect Cornish aquamarine.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have some in my garden (of course) looking good among the self-seeded ferns. They do have long tap roots though, so can damage walls.

      1. Tish Farrell says:

        I much prefer the red to the white, and grew some from seed a couple of years ago. It’s an excellent foil, both shape and colour-wise, and although it self-seeds, it doesn’t seem as rampant as the self-sown row of floppity white that keeps cropping up along our front house wall. As you say, long tap roots. I keep hacking it back, and it’s rather horrid once it’s flowered.

        1. Heyjude says:

          It used to grow a lot around the castle in Ludlow, expect it still does. I cut it back / pull it out after flowering.

  2. beetleypete says:

    Is this related to the Valerian Root that can be poisonous?
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      No that is Valeriana officinalis, a herb that can be used in medication for anxiety, aid sleep. I wasn’t aware it had any poisonous properties.

  3. johnrieber says:

    The beauty of nature in full bloom!

    1. Heyjude says:

      No stopping it during May!

  4. Tina Schell says:

    Dazzling Jude! Would love to see it in person. Especially liked the way you captured the larger seaside scene through the flowers.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s all over the place now. That view is of St Ives harbour.

  5. I love that name “kiss me quick”. Of all of them that is the one I would choose πŸ˜‰

    1. Heyjude says:

      Haha.. not sure why it has that name!

  6. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    We have it here too as an escapee. Love that first image, great contrast against the bright blue sea

  7. And it’s beautiful as is the POV in the first photo.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, that’s quite a view.

        1. Heyjude says:

          And why all the car parks are full even before the start of the school holidays.

  8. I think we had that darker pink one in our garden when I was growing up. Not 100% certain if it’s the same plant but being drought tolerant it’s entirely possible.

  9. restlessjo says:

    Love the Header, Jude!

    1. Heyjude says:

      That’s the view that draws in the tourists.

      1. restlessjo says:

        We have one of those too. How are the bruises? πŸ€”πŸ’—

        1. Heyjude says:

          Still sore 😩

        2. restlessjo says:


  10. Ann Mackay says:

    Love the top photograph. We have both the red and white and last year I was delighted to see a hummingbird hawk-moth on the red one. So I shall have to make sure we always have plenty red valerian!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I need to keep an eye on mine, I’d love to see one of those.

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        It was a surprise – and the first time I’d seen one in my own garden, despite seeing them in friends’ gardens nearby.

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