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The Independent Online
Last autumn, Vanessa Pearn of Oxford planted an Eremurus robustus in her garden. This spring, she wondered why no growth was showing. "About a month ago," she writes, "I noticed a mound in the flower bed with a hole next to it and discovered the eremurus. It had started into growth, but the leaves were growing down into the soil. I had planted it upside down.

"I dug down carefully and lifted the plant out of the ground. The photo shows the top nine inches of the leaves cut off by my spade. There were another six inches of leaf still in the ground. Altogether the eremurus had pushed its leaves down at least 15in. They were, of course, absolutely yellow when I first pulled them out. Now replanted the right way up, the plant is growing away nicely.

"I was amazed to find that a plant would grow so long upside down in complete darkness. Furthermore, the fat finger-like roots had tiny thread like roots growing from them down into the ground - in other words parallel with the leaves. Is this unusual? I would love to know."

The eremurus or foxtail lily (although it's not a lily at all, but a herbaceous perennial) has such a huge amount of fat stored away in its crown that its initial growth was probably fuelled by this stored food rather than by conventional means. You notice the same thing with bulbs which you have forgotten to plant, or onions kept too long in store. But it was rather odd that the eremurus leaves chose to go down so far, rather than doing a U-turn to seek the light. Vanessa Pearn would like to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience.