SCABIOSA scabious

Scabious does not produce an abundance of blooms at any one time, and yet it remains a favourite herbaceous border perennial. There are two basic reasons for its popularity – flowering begins in late June and continues until the first frosts arrive, and the large flowers are excellent for arranging indoors. The frilly-edged ‘pincushions’, blueor white and up to4 in. across, last a long time in water and can also be dried for winter decoration. Plant in the spring and add compost, peat or leaf mould to the planting mixture. Dead-head faded blooms and cut down the stems once the floral display is over. Keep watch for slugs in the spring.

VARIETIES: The basic species is S. caucasica – height 2-3 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft.

Flowering period: June-October. It bears large lavender-coloured flowers but it has now largely been replaced by its named varieties. The one you are most likely to be offered is ‘Give Greaves’ – mid-blue, large-flowered and long-stemmed. There are a few white varieties, such as ‘Miss Willmott’ and ‘Bressingham White’ and there are several deep violet types to choose from – pick ‘Moerheim Blue’ or ‘Imperial Purple’.

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

PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in spring.

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