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Growing flowers at Hagley Road Retirement Village

29th June, 2015

Hagley Road Village resident Thelma Thomas is carrying on with a family tradition of growing, from seed, the Bird of Paradise flower Strelitzia.

Thelma’s husband Jim was a professional gardener, starting work age 15 in 1935 at a traditional Victorian walled garden. His first job was leading a pony that pulled the lawn-mower.

Jim moved to Birmingham in 1938 to work at the Chancellor’s Halls of Residence at Birmingham University.

In 1970, Jim grew a Strelitzia from seed, but it did not flower due to lack of sun caused by surrounding trees.

Jim’s final job was at TI Residential Training College, now Priory Clinic. Here, the glass houses were open to bright sunlight and he managed to bring the Strelitzia flower out.

Jim died in 2010; Thelma has carried on growing them from seed and now has three, one she has given to son Mervyn. Thelma’s two plants have buds on.

Thelma said: “Everyone is watching for when they burst into flower.”

Pictures: Thelma with her Strelitzias.

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