The Queen of the Night

We had an exciting botanical event at the Hospice back in June when we witnessed a very rare occurrence. Read our Head Gardener’s blog to find out more and take a look at the short clip we made to capture the magic.

By Jocelyn Armitage, Head Gardener

Our gardens have won awards and been visited by royalty. But more importantly they are a peaceful haven for our patients, visitors and staff to spend time relaxing and taking in the sweet smells of the summer flowers.

What you may not know is that we also do a bit of plant cultivation inside the hospice. We have a hot spot on the 4th floor of our Centenary Wing, a glass corridor which acts as a greenhouse and is perfect for our plants that like a warmer climate.

One of these is Epiphyllum Oxypetalum, a plant from South America whose flowers open only for one night every year or so.  Its heavy fragrance attracts huge Sphynx moths to pollinate it.  They have to be quick though, the flower is only fully open for five hours.

This particular plant has been at the Hospice for about eight years.  It has flowered before but has never been ‘seen’ to flower, the evidence of the wrung out, pendulous aftermath, is all that has been on show, that is until now….

We set up a camera to record this rare and beautiful flowering which many of us witnessed in person but we also captured the moment for all to see. You can watch the film here.

A few thank yous because we couldn’t have done it without these people.

Thank you to the anonymous woman who pushed the cutting into my hand, some years ago, with the usual ‘take this, I think you will like it’.

Thank you to volunteer Sandra who stopped me throwing the ungainly thing out, when it grew so lanky it couldn’t be displayed anywhere without drawing negative comments, especially from me. It was she who first noticed the moist and hairy dangly things on it, which were intriguing but hardly attractive.

Thank you to our wonderful receptionists Gaila and Anne for sharing my excitement so graciously once I had decided I was going to ‘capture’ the flowering.

And last but not least, Thomas, our Night security who alerted me to movement and shared the excitement as it happened. We are able to let the wards know so that the night staff could share the spectacle.

I hope you enjoy the film and the pictures, same time next year?