C’mon, this way, I want to show you something else up here at the top of the Fairegarden.
We are almost there. It is the Eryngiums in bloom that are calling to us. Not the North American prairie native Eryngium yuccifoliums in the foreground though, they are not quite blooming yet, although lovely in bud. It is the Europeans showing off at the moment, Eryngium alpinum seedlings of various mixes.
The earliest light of the morning casts a pink tint on the stone grey shed. Viewed from the next terrace down from the top, the middle pathway, the Shed Bed is sparkling with dew. The mix of Eryngiums, Stipa tenuissima and the iris-like foliage of Belamcanda chinensis sets the scene just before the bright light washes the colors out.
The slope is quite steep, necessitating the use of stakes in the past to help keep all of the occupants upright and shoulder to shoulder. The black metal container trellises have been added this year and give a more elegant touch.
To keep the use of the metal helpers to a minimum, the stems are twisted together in such a way to make use of those plants on the higher ground giving a lift to those below. The stiff and spikey collars help keep the twist from unfurling.
The efforts each year to capture the true blue-ness are lessons in frustration. As the flowers, the small button heads are comprised of many blossoms, mature, the bracts and stems become a steely shade of periwinkle blue. There are cultivars with names like Sapphire and Blue this and that, but these are mixed seedlings from years of interbreeding. Most are the same color, but there are various leaf shapes.
In an ongoing effort to add diversity to the Fairegarden Eryngium family, besides the E. yuccifolium have been added Eryngium venustum, above and Eryngium tripartum, not shown. These may not add anything new to the genetic miasma, but the foliage is interesting.
It has taken years to get the seed germination going with these Sea Hollies, even though the references all claimed it to be easy peasy. Each winter the spent flower stalks were allowed to stand, becoming fully ripe. Each January when clean up is done, the seedheads were crushed and scattered about throughout the bed. This past January, one seed head was thrust into the ground, marked by the upside down stem. This is what emerged. The tell tale leaves of the baby Eryngiums look so much like the wild violets that one must get down quite low and examine the shape and scalloping to be sure of who is whom. It has been learned that the difference is in those scallops, and the shape will be either round or ovalish/oblong but similar to the heart shape of the violets. They are often shiny, but not always, as well. The little viola decided to adopt the Eryngium as a sibling, both self sown and both welcome here.
One of our earliest posts, click here to view it, published in January of 2008, tells the story of our efforts to get the Eryngiums going here. At that time the photos were not resized as they are now, to save space and prevent piracy, so the shots in the old post may be clicked upon to enlarge. Seeing how the garden has grown since then is enlightening and enjoyable for the gardener, too.
Must have good drainage
Poor soil is fine
Pollinators love it
Tap rooted, move only small seedlings
18-30 inches tall, upright, thistle-like
Whole plant turns steel blue