EMNETH: Friend helps Barrie identify the plant that just kept growing and growing

PUBLISHED: 13:25 22 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:08 02 June 2010

Barrie Cowling from Emneth with his 10ft plus mystery plant

Barrie Cowling from Emneth with his 10ft plus mystery plant

WHEN Barrie Cowling bought a small mystery plant for his garden from Wisbech market he had no idea what it was or how high it was going to grow. For the last five or six years the plant has flourished in his woodland garden at The Wroe, Emneth. But this y

WHEN Barrie Cowling bought a small mystery plant for his garden from Wisbech market he had no idea what it was or how high it was going to grow.

For the last five or six years the plant has flourished in his woodland garden at The Wroe, Emneth.

But this year 80-year-old Mr Cowling was amazed to see buds suddenly appear on 10ft high shoots.

He said: "I hadn't been out in that part of the garden for a week or two and then I saw these flowers towering up. When the flowers open they look as if they are going to be very dark red, they are most unusual."

The plant has become quite a talking point among visitors to the garden and now a friend has identified the plant as being a Phormium, or New Zealand flax.

The long leaf fibres have played an important part in the culture, history and economy of New Zealand. The flax fibres were made into baskets, mats and fishing nets. Flax was also widely used for medicinal purposes with the sticky snap used on wounds and boils. The root gave a juice that was used as a disinfectant and the leaves were also used as dressings for wounds.

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