Scabiosa caucasica

The wild field scabious is a weed in my garden, but I like it enough to grow varieties of its grander relative, S. caucasica, an attractive hardy perennial for the late summer border, with rosettes of mauve flowers with yellow centres. Scabious is just the right plant to cool down the hot yellow daisy flowers which dominate the garden at this season. It is a splendid cutting plant, the long bare stems being about 2 feet (60 cm) long, and there are various shades of blue and purple available, as well as the excellent ‘Bressingham White’. Scabious must have sun and very well-drained soil, and do not succeed on clay.

Sweet scabious, S. atropurpurea, is also a worthwhile plant, a hardy annual to fill gaps in late summer where delphiniums, lilies and other earlier flowers have died down. Do not despise an old-fashioned mixed packet of seeds, to be sown in situ in late spring, which will give you a surprise assortment of purple, red and white flowers up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall. There are also mixed packets of a dwarf form, 18 inches (45 cm) tall, in the same viyid colour range.

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