We are now in the last posts (for a while at least) that will have any connection with Lismore Castle. But I could not leave without mentioning a couple of plants that I saw there that I have either fond memories of or that I really like. So today we have Romneya coulteri, a giant ‘tree poppy’ from California and the Baja peninsula. This magnificent plant has an Irish connection because it is named after Thomas Coulter (1793-1843) who was a physician and botanist who travelled to Mexico, California and Arizona and founded the herbarium at Trinity College, Dublin.
Romneya is a marvellous plant with attractive, grey, slashed leaves up the stems and great white blooms like frilly fried eggs waving the in breeze 1-5 to 2m above the ground. It is a plant that loves warmth, sun and well drained soil and although it is called ‘tree poppy’ it doesn’t have much woody growth in our climate, though the base of the plant can be woody. It is cut back to near ground level by frost and later by tidy gardeners. Anyone who sees it falls under its spell but this is a plant with territorial ambitions that would be the envy of Alexander the Great.
Like many plants that spread like wildfire it can be slow to establish at first but once it decides it likes you it does everything in its power to make sure you will never eradicate it. I have seen it grow into walls of old houses where there were poor foundations and sprout through window frames. It will rarely stay where it is put and will send up shoots a metre or more from the original. This may be perfectly acceptable in a wild planting of big, sunloving plants but if you think it would look nice among some dainty echinaceas in a narrow bed you would be advised to consider something a bit more refined.
8/10 – gorgeous but difficult to place
6/10 – those spreading habits really are a pain