Almost from the first moment we moved to Orkney (an archipelago which has been under Scottish control since 1468), there has been a big question hanging in the air. A question as yet unanswered, but one that will be resolved before the next UK general election in 2015.
It is a question with significant local ramifications, but one which is global in its reach. In fact, its roots are just about as far flung as you can be from here. And to be brutally honest, as English incomers, we wondered if it was entirely appropriate for us to be part of the debate at all.
Our Lass and I have talked it through, argued over it and changed our individual stances more than once. On wild and windy walks in Winter, on sheltered Spring saunters and, lately, on jousting July jaunts. However, in recent days, I feel that a consensus has been reached and a decision will be made soon.
Aye, in a sudden u-turn, whose g-forces would come as no surprise to many a Westminster politician, our policy of only using native plants in our garden has spun 180 degrees around the compass, as we contemplate the introduction of New Zealand Flax, Phormium tenax.
Surely you didn't think I was referring to the other big question? See here and here.
From the off, we had wanted to establish a garden that was big on native planting, so as to maximise the habitat opportunities for native wildlife and promote biodiversity. You see, the problem with non-native plants, even if they are not invasive, is that they all too easily reduce the available space for native plants. And other native wildlife has evolved to live in, on and around native plants.
So a vote for non-native plants can potentially reduce the biodiversity of the area. Tricky, eh?
OK, you may well ask, why has New Zealand Flax suddenly become so de rigueur? Put simply, it's because it can survive in the Orcadian climate (i.e. windy and wet), can provide shelter for more tender plants and other wildlife, is very architectural and can produce this effect when it flowers...