A GREEN-FINGERED great-granddad believes he has grown one of the tallest garden flowers in the country - which now stands at an impressive 14ft tall.

Dave Armstrong purchased an Echium Pininana last spring when it was just nine inches tall.

In just over a year the plant has grown to a magnificent 14ft high - with no signs of stopping.

The garden flower, which is known as the Blue Steeple Tower of Jewels, is native to the Canary Islands and is an endangered species.

The 78-year-old reckons his Echium is one of the tallest grown in a garden in the UK.

Mr Armstrong, who lives with Pauline his wife of 37 years in Main Road, Dovercourt, said: “I bought it last year and it was about nine inches tall at the time. Then it started growing about two inches a day - unbelievably.

“I kept measuring the plant each day to see how much it had grown, and now I have to climb up a stepladder to measure it as it has become so tall.”

The plant is recommended for the southern maritime countries of England, and it is most vulnerable to frosts in its first years of growth.

Due to its large leaves when partly grown, it is also very susceptible to wind damage.

One of the species reached 16 feet in the glass house of the Botanic Gardens of Wales in Carmarthenshire in 2017.

Mr Armstrong said the plants can grow up to 25ft high in their native climate.

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He added: “It might not get that big, but if we continue to get the right weather, it might do.

“We are quite chuffed with the plant and have been telling people about it.”

He said the Echium has recently become so huge, that he has run out of poles to support it.

“It’s now so tall I have run out of poles to stabilise it,” he added.

“Really, it should be near a shed to lean on or a wall.

“Ours is open to the elements, so I hope there is not a bad storm.

Everytime it gets windy, I get nervous it will fall. I’d be devastated if it fell down.

“I’m just really proud of it and want to keep growing it.”

After researching the plant, Mr Armstrong noticed national news publications had reported other people into the country growing theirs to similar heights.

He added: “I just want to know if anyone else has one like this, in the area or in other parts of the country, so we can compare them.”

Mr Armstrong, who has five children, 13 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, has always been a keen gardener.

He used to work as a parks and gardens supervisor in Harwich, Dovercourt, Great Oakley and Little Oakley.

Now he has retired, gardening is one of his hobbies and he has had plenty of time in lockdown to tend to the Echium.

He added: “I’m amazed by the size of the plant, and people keep coming in the garden to see it.”

Do you have an Echium growing in your garden?

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