HARDY PERENNIALS: SCABIOSA

The best known perennial Scabious is of course the blue S. caucasica, which is so useful for floral decoration. A good many varieties have been raised and introduced and of these S. ‘Clive Greaves’, unlike many, has stood the test of time, both for constitution and colour. There are deeper blues such as S. ‘Moerheim Blue’ and paler ones as in S. ‘Moonstone’ as well as two good whites in S. ‘Miss Willmott’ and S. ‘Bressingham White’. All grow to 2½ -3 feet flowering from June to September. If dead flowers are cut, or others used for indoor decoration, it lengthens the flowering period. These Scabiosa must have well drained soil and they like lime. They are best planted or divided in spring and losses may occur as plants become old and woody after 3-4 years. From seed, S. caucasica comes in variable shades. Where grown other than as single plants it is good practice to divide a third of ones stock every year, beginning when the original plants are not more than three years old. It is when dividing old stock that planting losses may be heavy, and by this means, one has always younger healthier plants to go at. If there is any menace at all from slugs, they will go for Scabiosa during the dormant season and one should use slug bait, sharp ashes or lime around the plants. Two excellent dwarf Scabiosa are the mauve blue S. graminifolia and its pink variation S. graminifolia ‘Pinkushion’. These have silvery grassy leaves, forming an attractive mound a few inches high and above come a profusion of ‘pincushion’ flowers on 10-12 inches stems from June till well into September. Given well drained soil, both these are reliable, easy to divide and long lived. The light yellow S. ochro-leuca is attractive and long flowering, but grows to a rather floppy 2 feet and is not very long lived. There is a close relative which is deep red flowered—Knautia macedonia (formerly Scabiosa rumelica). If its habit is to sprawl somewhat, anyone who grows it will not complain because it covers the ground with greenery at about 18 inches and above this come a long succession of deep red pincushions 2-3 inches across which are a delight.

SCABIOSA varieties

SCABIOSA varieties

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