Sun in the garden

One slight disadvantage of growing unusual plants can be the lack of information on them. Even with access to the internet, a search for something choice and obscure may only turn up a photograph taken by someone on a botanising holiday, with no cultural information. Only a closer look at the growing environment, and research on the local climate, will give a clue as to whether there is a chance of growing it. Then comes the problem of finding a supplier! Or you may have the opposite problem – a detailed list of requirements, ample pictures, but no name.

Three years ago, I placed an order with Cally Gardens, a small nursery run by plant explorer Michael Wickenden in Scotland. This included a berkheya he had found during a trip to Lesotho. Unable to identify it, he sold it under the name Berkheya ‘Helios’, describing it as ‘the best Berkheya in cultivation’

Berkheya 'Helios' - 2019 - Copy

Helios was a god and personification of the sun in ancient Greek religion, and the large, bright yellow, daisy flowers certainly bring a burst of sunshine to the garden. The foliage is not so user friendly, being very spiny, green with a silvery-white reverse. The plant grows a couple of feet high with a larger spread as it forms new crowns. Semi-evergreen, it needs a fertile soil with good drainage in full sun.

Sadly, Michael died a few months later in 2016 while on another plant expedition in Myanmar. The nursery is now owned by another plantsman, Kevin Hughes. Mail order is no longer offered, but I hope to visit Cally Gardens later in the summer when I may finally be able to get a name for my berkheya.



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