FEATHER SEA HOLLY
Eryngium spinalba looks to be made from a mass of silver-blue-sea green feathers.
Silver-blue-sea green feathers and silver laced foliage
Because every part of Eryngium spinalba, flowers and foliage, is finely cut like silver feathers.
With blushes of blue and sea green in the flowers heads as they mature.
From the haze of silver-blue-green cones, to the rosette of blue-green leaves marbled with silver lace markings – it is all handsome and architectural.
(Scroll down to “Growing” section for plant details, how / where to grow)
Tough as old boots in the dry garden
Eryngiums revel in the hottest, driest, most exposed, sunniest position you have.
And Eryngium spinalba is native to hot, dry, stony areas in southern France and Italy, where the summers sizzle and the winters are sharply cold.
Dry summer heat hardy & drought resistant
So of course Eryngium spinalba is well adapted to long periods of summer heat and dry, and has very low water needs.
It accepts dry conditions as normal, and is therefore very drought resistant.
And in fact, if you give the feather Sea Holly too much water, it will probably turn up it’s toes.
Placing it right up there with Sedums, as being highly recommended for water conscious gardeners.
And particularly recommended for seaside gardeners because it can also tolerate some salt in the air and very windy positions.
Superb cut flowers both fresh and dried
Eryngiums can be compared to Everlastings in texture, as they are firm to the touch.
So they make extremely long lasting vase flowers when they are cut fresh.
And for dried arrangements you just hang the flower heads upside down until fully dry, and they retain their marvellous silver-blue-green colours.
SEED SOWING ADVICE: QUICK & EASY
Sow seeds at any time of year in punnets indoors / or scatter directly in the garden during winter-early spring. Seeds need a period of cold for best germination.
INDOORS: Sow the seeds in a punnet on the surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Then press the seeds gently into the surface of the mix to ensure good contact.
Now barely cover the seeds with mix / grit / washed sand.
Then place the sown, moist punnet in a warm, well-lit spot (not in direct sunlight).
Temperatures of 18-22°C are ideal for rapid and optimum germination.
So you can use a temperature-controlled heat mat if you have one to encourage rapid germination, but it is not essential. A window-sill or well-lit corner is also fine.
Seeds germinate in approx. 5-30 days.
However if the seeds are shy to germinate after 4 weeks. Then cling wrap the moist, sown punnet and place in fridge (not freezer) for 4-6 weeks.
Then remove, unwrap, re-moisten, and return the sown punnet to a well-lit warm place.
Prick out as seedlings as soon as possible after germination, and move into deeper pots, as the young plants quickly form long tap roots (which of course helps them to forage for water in a dry climate).
SEED COUNT: 10 seeds per pack approx.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count, and give a generous serve).
GROWING: Eyngium spinalba
– Height with flowers: Big, airy summer flower heads come up in feathers to 40cm approx.
– Width: Evergreen clump of lacy foliage to a diameter of approx. 40cm.
– Position: Eryngium spinalba revels in the hottest, driest, most exposed, windiest and sunniest position you have.
It will tolerate just a little shade, as long as it is well aired. But under no circumstances should it be damp shade.
All Eryngium are ideal for coastal and seaside gardens, where they tolerate salt spray well.
Eryngiums invented “Drought Hardy”
– Soil: Eryngiums adore anything that drains perfectly.
So sandy, rocky, gravel soils are just their thing.
They will certainly also thrive in average garden loam, as long as they are not overwatered.
But kiss them goodbye in heavy, wet, or clay soils.
They are not a bit fussy about soil pH, and so will live happily in soils on either the acid or the alkaline (lime) side of neutral.
And it is a mistake to over fertilize them, as they grow and flower best when kept on lean rations.
Bliss for water challenged gardeners
– Water-wise: Eryngiums have very low water needs. They accept dry conditions as normal, and are very drought resistant. In fact if you give them too much water they will probably turn up their toes.
– Frost: Eryngiums are bomb proof in frost, and can blissfully ignore severe frost down to well below -20C.
Handsome & architectural
– Growth: Evergreen perennial that remains all year as a ground hugging rosette of marbled silver leaves.
Then in the summer it erupts up with clouds of silver-blue-green cones, on large branching heads. Magic.
– Fragrance: None, but Eryngiums have so many other highly desirable qualities we can forgive one little oversight.
Bees love them & rabbits hate
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees and other useful pollinators work them very happily for abundant pollen and nectar, oblivious to any prickles.
– Low Care: Eryngiums are very low maintenance, with the only work being to cut the finished flower branches down at the end of autumn, though many gardeners like to leave the dried seed heads for finches and other small seed eating birds over winter. The dried branches of seed heads certainly look very attractive rimmed with frost.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: I dare the pests to take a bite and get a mouthful of prickles. But they are too smart, and don’t touch them
– Origin: Hot, dry and desert places in northern Africa, particularly in Morocco.
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