HARDY PERENNIALS: STACHYS

There is nothing difficult about any of the Sta-chys, and there are one or two lesser known kinds which should be more widely known. S. lanata is not one of these, for as ‘Donkeys Ears’ it is seen in many a garden, popular for its rapid surface spread of felted silver leaves and 20 inches sprays of small pink flowers. These are not very attractive and in the variety S. ‘Silver Carpet’ there are none, and the plant lives up to its name as a first class ground covering subject, capable of growing between shrubs, withstanding drought and can be planted at almost any time. S. byzantinas is even more vigorous, with larger leaves. S. macranlha makes neat 2 feet bushes with bright lilac pink flowers of good size in June and July and the variety S. macranlha robusta is earlier and stronger growing. S. spi-cata robusta is very erect and spikey, flowering bright pink to 2 feet and S.. spicata densiflorum has tightly packed spikes at 18 inches. These are two excellent long flowering but little known plants, clumpy but compact; and there is a charming dwarf white S. nivea (stricta alba) which grows only 8 inches flowering a long time. All these grow in ordinary soil and can be divided. This genus has come in for nomenclature re-classification in recent years, with the inevitable result that there is conflict between common usage and correctness. Quite often, the only grounds for a change of name by the botanical authorities is that of the first recorded name of a plant being given priority. As a principle this is fair enough, but when a plant has been known under a certain name for a century or more, it is asking rather a lot of ordinary gardeners to make the change, when botanic names are difficult enough to memorise anyway. In this case it was decided that plants under the generic name of Betonica ought to be transferred under Stachys. Only the botanical experts can give the technical reason, and ordinary gardeners al6ng with nurserymen can but follow suit, or no compromise is possible and sometimes they dig in their toes and stick to the best known name. Amongst the above S. maerantha and S. spicata were Betonicas until a few years ago, as Bctonica grandiflora and spicata respectively, and may still be occasionally listed under these names.

STACHYS lanata

STACHYS lanata

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