Blue-headed, or “chamber” - a fashionable thorn in the garden
It was hard to imagine once that spiny plants would be among the decorative ones. But times are changing, and today the "thorns" can be seen in the assortment of many nurseries. They are by no means cheap, but there is a huge demand for them. Today, landscape designers have a few prickly perennials in trend. One of them is the well-known bluehead, often referred to as the “chamber”. Why it is worth planting a bluehead in the garden, what are its most interesting species and how to care for it, I will tell in my article.
This mysterious plant is probably familiar to anyone who spent the summer in the village from childhood. The people have firmly established the belief that this spiny flower is able to protect housing from damage and the evil eye, if you place a bunch of bluehead above the front door. Today, along with similar non-standard use, this plant can also be found as a decoration of a flower garden.
The bluehead has several species, varietal varieties of which are introduced into the culture. The most familiar to us species, known as the plant “chamber”, or grass “from the evil eye” is flathead bluehead (Eryngium planum). So sometimes also called very similar to him bluehead field (Eryngium campestre).
The inflorescences of the pseudolithic platyphyllum consist of tiny flowers collected in heads and surrounded by a picket of flat spiny horizontal bracts. The upper part of the stems and inflorescences have shades of blue or purple. Because of this specific appearance, it is very difficult to confuse a bluehead with another plant.
You can settle this type of bluehead in your garden, collecting seeds in the wild. Digging a plant out of its natural environment is not environmentally friendly, and also risky. The bluehead has a long rod root, and it may simply not survive the transplant. But to grow a bluehead from seeds is not so difficult. In addition, the seed method will allow you to choose the most striking specimens and independently engage in crossbreeding.
Sometimes the planting material of this bluehead comes across for sale. Please note that it is better not to buy this plant with a bare root, but to buy only plants grown in containers with a closed root system.
Popular varieties of bluehearted flatbed:
- ‘Blue Hobbit’ - undersized compact, not more than 45 centimeters.
- "Jade frost" - a dwarf variety of 30-40 centimeters, characterized in that at the beginning of the dissolution of the inflorescences are pure white, and gradually turn blue with age.
- ‘Blaukappe’ - a tall variety, 80 centimeters in height.
Since the bluehead is common in the wild of the middle lane, it is the most unpretentious and winter-hardy species that will grow with little or no care. It grows best on drained soils. At the same time, it is important to protect it from excessive moisture, especially in winter during the thaw and early spring.
Soils should be poor or moderately fertile. The bluehead is a very resistant plant and grows even in the open sun. But on excessively nutritious soils, the curtain will look sprawled, begin to grow too quickly, and may displace neighboring plants.
Blue-headed Alpine (Eryngium alpinum) is more effective and majestic, but at the same time it is also extremely frost-resistant and will not require additional shelters. Once having seen this bluehead live, it is very difficult to resist its extraordinary sculptural heads of a gentle blue color.
Strong vertical stems from mid-summer to autumn (July to early October) are crowned with single, cone-shaped flower heads (up to 4 centimeters long), consisting of tiny bluish flowers. The particular attractiveness of the plant is due to the fact that each inflorescence is surrounded by a lush collar of 12-18 deeply cut openwork blue bracts.
Such inflorescences are similar to the thinnest ice crystals and seem to be magical snowflakes, miraculously arising in the middle of summer. At first glance, it may seem that the alpine bluehead inflorescences are very prickly, but the bracts are soft to the touch, it is very difficult to prick them.
Alpine bluehead has leaves of several types on one plant: ovoid, heart-shaped and palmate-divided three-lobed (closer to the inflorescences). The foliage is green in color at the base of the plant, but the upper leaves and the upper part of the stem, as well as the flowers with bracts, are bluish. This is a fairly tall, but not very branched plant up to 80 centimeters high. Most often, only one variety of this bluehead is found on sale ‘Blue Star’ ("Blue Star").
An alpine bluehead is best propagated by seed. They are sown before winter or spring through seedlings, seedlings bloom the next year. This species is capable of giving not too plentiful self-seeding. Its young plants are easy to remove.
It is best to place this view in full sun, then its foliage and inflorescences will acquire a more saturated blue color. Cold autumn nights and the application of lime during planting also contribute to the fact that the flowers become brighter. This bluehead is very hardy and withstands poor soils, drought and salinization.
The plant can stretch and fall over if grown on moist and too fertile soils or in partial shade. Pruning faded flowers will extend flowering and help maintain an attractive appearance. The alpine bluehead is also very affected during transplantation, so it is better not to disturb it after the plants are planted in a permanent place.
This species of bluehead, unlike the previous two, is a young plant and is most often used as a biennial plant. Giant blue-headed (Eryngium giganteum) really has impressive dimensions. This is a real giant among the blueheads, growing to a height of 90 cm to 1.5 meters.
The most popular variety of this species is an eerie name. The Ghost of Miss Willmott. There are two versions of why the giant bluehead has a similar name. According to one of them, he is named for the famous British gardener of the XIX century Ellen Willmott, who allegedly loved secretly scattering the seeds of this plant in foreign gardens.
Another more plausible version is that the name is due to the appearance of this bluehead. And, indeed, this huge bush with large, prickly silver-gray bracts and whitish foliage, which is silver in the light of day or mysteriously glows on a moonlit night, resembles a female figure from the other world in a white robe.
The inflorescences of this bluehead are similar to other types of plants - the cob, consisting of small flowers surrounded by a collar of flat bracts. The bracts of the giant bluehead are wide, slightly dissected and prickly at the tips, and also have serrations at the edges. The stems in the upper part of the bush are distinguished by a radiant white color.
Despite the frightening name, you should not be afraid of this plant, it is a real living sculpture in the garden, which will certainly delight all your guests and neighbors. The original expressive appearance will attract not only admiring glances, but also butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects.
Although the plant is grown as a biennial, it is easily propagated by self-seeding. Plant it only once and it will come to life in the garden every year in a new place, you just have to guess where this time the “Miss Willmott Phantom” will appear?
In culture, the giant bluehead is also unpretentious and undemanding in care. Like other species, it is enough to provide it with a dry, sunny place and watering only during prolonged droughts. It is best grown from seeds and not transplanted after planting in a permanent place.
Bluehead in garden design
Like any plant with an unusual appearance, prickly blueheads require a delicate taste from the gardener. Such charismatic instances need to find a decent environment. These plants always add striking structural forms to flower beds. But, of course, such an unusual plant is unlikely to create a harmonious duet with popular flower bed annuals, like marigolds or petunias.
Blueheads are ideal for growing in mixborders of a natural style, gravel garden, rock gardens or in containers, and are also used for cutting fresh and dry. Carefully choose a planting place so as not to disturb the plant with transplants, since it really does not like to be bothered.
Ideal neighbors for blueheads: sage, penstemon, Perovian, echinacea, various decorative cereals. The most spectacular bluehead looks large curtains among herbs or other perennial plants. Moreover, in order to set the rhythm for the flower garden, it is recommended to plant several identical curtains throughout the flower garden.
Another technique is the cultivation of the so-called "meadow plantings", when the plants were planted not in groups, but in bulk, as if they had grown by themselves. In the latter case, placers of blue stars of the bluehead will be here and there peeking from under the petals of neighboring plants, which will create a magnificent effect of a real meadow.
Dear readers! Pseudomonas is not toxic to humans and animals and is actively used in traditional medicine. All species of bluehead attract bees, beneficial insects, birds and butterflies to the garden, but pests try to bypass it. Some other types of blueheads were introduced into the culture, besides those mentioned in the article. But they are very difficult to find on sale. Before purchasing planting stock of rare species, it is better to check their frost resistance level in advance.