The Sea Holly in bloom is quite unmistakeable. The rosette of thistle-like leaves and the branching stems usually have a bluish tinge, and each thimble-shaped blue flower-head has an intricately spined ruff. It is happiest in the dry, sandy soil of its native seaside home, but it will flourish in any well-drained, non-acid soil. At the end of the season cut the stems down to ground level – to increase your stock each mature clump can be divided, but it is better to buy new plants.

VARIETIES: Sea Hollies should be planted 1-1.5 ft apart – the

Flowering period: is July-September. Height depends on the species chosen – two low-growing ones are E. variifolium (2 ft. evergreen, white-veined leaves) and E. alpinum (2 ft. metallic blue flowers). A popular and taller species is E. oliverianum (3 ft. pale purple flowers), and E. tripartitum (3 ft) bears attractive grey-blue flowers. The most compact type is E. bourgatii (1.5 ft) with its silvery blue leaves and flowers.

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained garden soil will do – thrives best in full sun.

PROPAGATION: Clumps can be divided in spring, but Eryngium does not like root disturbance.

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