Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Meet my baby

Isn't she sweet? Actually she's one of three - triplets, you might say - and I've had them all tucked up in pots over winter on my herb shelf, which is up against the house wall outside so quite a sheltered little spot.

The reason I'm so chuffed with my babies making it through winter is that they're Erygium agavifolium, a plant I have admired in other people's gardens for many years. It's a very spectacular and somewhat exotic-looking eryngium, sometimes known as the button eryngium; like most sea-hollies it has bracted rather thistle-like flowerheads, but in this case they're 6ft tall and come in huge ghost-white clusters. The plant is also evergreen with imposing and I hope you'll agree rather attractive rosettes of glossy mid-green toothed leaves. It's borderline hardy - which is why I put the littlies up by the house.

More to the point, these particular ones were free. I spotted a forlorn single remaining specimen while I was at West Dean Gardens near Chichester last year and pounced on it (slightly manically but I don't think anyone noticed). Imagine my glee when I realised that nestled under the main crown were three little babies. Not a word did I utter to the nice lady at the checkout: I paid for one plant and got four. Of such stuff are gardeners' dreams made.

Once home I split the whole lot up, potted up the babies and popped mum in the border by the pond, where she's looking a little battered after this awful winter but still healthy (rather giving the lie to the minus-five minimum temperature usually given for these plants: as usual I think it's the wet rather than the cold that you've got to watch out for). Now I'm looking forward to a fourfold display of spectacular ghostly fireworks this summer. There will be photographs.


La Petite Gallery said...

This is a new plant to me. Love to see it in bloom .Happy she survived.

VP said...

Ooooh I was admiring one of those in a garden in Dorset last summer. They are spectacular aren't they.

I have a very soft spot for Eryngiums ever since I ground to a halt in Greece when I saw their outlandishly steely purple stems growing in a sand dune.

Simon said...

I have quite a few young plants that I grew from seed last year (RHS Seed Distribution) - they have survived being outside all winter in 3" pots! Now all I have to do is find places for them in the garden.

The Constant Gardener said...

Thanks LPG, and VP I share your feelings about erygiums - they're a lot softer than they look which is part of their charm. And that colour....

Simon - I've got a big envelope of RHS seeds waiting to be planted on my desk right now. So I too will hopefully have potfuls of interesting seedlings before too long! if you can't find space in the garden, grow 'em in containers, that's what I say. Well, that's my excuse, anyway :D

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