Catananche will thrive in dry, sandy soil where moisture-loving perennials would undoubtedly fail. The wiry flower stems rise above the greyish grassy leaves in early summer and the silvery buds are eye-catching. The flowering season is a long one, the buds opening to produce papery flowers which are about 1.5 in. across. The ends of the petals are blunt and serrated – a useful key to recognition. Support the stems with twigs and cut the flowers for indoors – they can be used fresh or dried for winter decoration. Cut back the stems once flowering is over.

VARIETIES: There is one species – C. caerulea. Basic details are height 2 ft. Spacing 1 ft.

Flowering period: June-September. The flowers are somewhat similar to Cornflowers and the plants are relatively short-lived. The best variety to grow is ‘Major’ – the lavender-coloured blooms are large. For white flowers grow ‘Alba’ or ‘Perry’s White’ – for blue-centred flowers with white edges buy the variety ‘Bicolor’.

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – thrives best in light land. A sunny spot is essential.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds under glass in spring. Alternatively take root cuitings in winter. ,v% w

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