Blooming innocently in Chippenham
Pensioner Graham Coe could never have known what a fuss he would cause after planting a packet of seeds he received free with a gardening magazine.
The seeds were for cleome plants, or spider flowers, which boast colourful pink and white flowers – and some fairly distinctive-looking leaves.
Ever since the flowers bloomed in Mr Coe’s front and back gardens in Downing Street, Chippenham, people have been asking if he is growing cannabis.
A Chippenham PCSO has even made a visit to the house to ask if he is growing the drug.
Mr Coe said: “The leaves do look like cannabis leaves, and there have been a lot of people popping their heads over and wondering what’s going on.
“The leaves have a strong smell too – my dog Rusty is always trying to sniff at them.
“If you didn’t know what they were, you may well think I’d been growing cannabis.”
He said that, despite the interest in the plants, he had been surprised to find the police on his doorstep.
“Someone must have been talking about the plants, and in the end I had a visit from a community support officer,” he said. “They came round and asked me ‘Have you got marijuana here?’ “I had to tell them it was just an interesting-looking flower.”
Cleome, or spider flower, is an annual known for its exceedingly long seedpods.
They develop below the flowers as bloom progresses upward on the stalk to give the plants a spidery look, as do the projecting stamens of the flowers.
The wild species grow in the huge, arid plains of the pampas in South America.
Cleomes are long-flowering and hardy, and Mr Coe can expect them to bloom in his garden for five months.