Variously called a Devil’s Tongue, Voodoo Lily, Dragon Lily or more properly Dracunculus Vulgaris, this one is very much at home in the Italian Garden! It is an oddity of a plant because it is pollinated by flies not bees. Its shape has given rise to lots of folklore and myths – so I don’t promise it is true that carrying the roots or leaves protects against vipers and serpents; or that if you wash your hands in a liquor made from the plant you can handle snakes with impunity – I will not be giving it a go.

Our chief horticulturalist, Sue, planted it 2-3 years ago and this is the first time it has flowered. Another affectionate term for it is Stink Lily, as it smells of rotting meat for about 3 days when the flower (well, actually the spathe and spadix) are ripe. Although the plant will wither quickly after flowering, it should, apparently, come back as it will spread from the tuber or seed.

Sue says there are other Dragon Lilies in the Italian Garden, so we must keep our eyes peeled. And she has ‘more monsters’ to put in, as she affectionately calls her exotic planting!