Master wort ASTRANTIA

Any review of flowering perennials must list a large range of the showy modern hybrids which are available in garden centres, but it would be sad if the unspectacular and no longer popular cottage garden plants were omitted.

Masterwort is one of our oldest garden flowers and would certainly not win a prize in a beauty contest – the round flowers are usually white or pinkish in colour, about 1 in. across, with a frill of papery bracts. The stems are slender and the leaves deeply divided; the blooms are excellent for cutting. Stake in exposed situations, keep watch for slugs and water freely in dry weather.

VARIETIES: The most popular species is A. major – height 2 ft. Spacing 1/2 ft.

Flowering period: June-July. The flowers are pinkish green and not at all eye-catching. There are brighter species available – A. maxima bears shell pink flowers and A. carniolica ‘Rubra’ (1.5 ft) produces dark red blooms.

SITE AND SOIL: Any moisture-retentive garden soil will do – thrives best in partial shade.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds under glass in spring. When plants are large and overcrowded, divide the clumps in autumn or spring.

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