Isle of Man garden holds lost species

A garden historian and botanist may have been pleasantly surprised to have been corrected when he used Gladiolus x brenchleyensis as an example of a plant which was once popular but had now disappeared.

Michael Tooley was giving a speech on the Isle of Man when he mentioned the variety and showed a photograph, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

However, one of his audience – local garden and greenhouse enthusiast Edward Huyton – spoke up, saying he was sure he had the plant growing at home.

It emerged that Mr Huyton had been given the variety by a friend two decades ago and that he had no idea of its name or significance.

"I knew it was a very old variety, but if I hadnt seen it in the photos I still wouldnt know its name," he explained.

"Its not as big and showy as the modern gladioli so its probably been passed over by many people."

Scientists have struggled to source a herbarium specimen to prove beyond doubt that the plant is a Gladiolus x brenchleyensis, with the only comparisons made to date being from photographs and sketches.

The news follows the sad passing of respected life-long garden and greenhouse enthusiast Ron Watts, who the RHS revealed died on August 9th.