Exotic and bold, with a distinctive head on a long thin neck. To me, a clump (flock?) of birds of paradise plants are a sure sign of balmy climes. They quickly turn tatty and straggly, but in their prime these unusual flowers are head-turners. Their common name ‘bird of paradise’ apparently relates to the flowers’ resemblance to the bird of that name, but personally I don’t see it! Also known as strelitzia, the plants are native to South Africa where they are commonly referred to as crane flowers.