Friday, June 29, 2012

Around the World

"Around the world I've searched for you
I traveled on when hope was gone
To keep a rendezvous
I knew somewhere, sometime, somehow,
You'd look at me and I would see
That smile you're smil-ing now"

If you recognize this song, then you're not a teenager anymore Mable!  If you remember the movie "Around the World in 80 Days", then you're probably not middle aged!  If you remember Bing Crosby sang it - or if you even know who Bing Crosby was, well let's just say you may be pushing the other side of that hill.

What have I been searching for:  A flowering plant that isn't bothered by drought, deer, and Japanese Beetles.  And here is one for that and so much more!

It's the beautiful and hardy Globe Thistle.  This isn't your roadside thistle that has thorns and every pink bloom throws out seeds.  It's the beautiful blue Echinops ritro "Globe Thistle". 

A European import, this compact perennial has stiff spiny 8 inch leaves casted with silver down.  The flower heads bloom in late summer.  The heads start as a metalic colored blue and in late summer they turn bright blue when each little floret bursts into bloom. 

So friends with difficult soil and conditions, this may be the plant you've searched around the world for and landed on the best spot.

Plant this in well drained soil that has a pH of 6.0-7.5.  Throw a little compost into the hole when planting - especially in moist areas.  Mulch and it needs no other fertilizer.  They do best in soil with a higher mineral count than organic matter.  Hardy to Zone 3.   

They look beautiful in a vase of cut flowers and keep their blue when dried.  The flower heads are just perfect for those wishing for more blue in their gardens.

Plant in full sun; although they tolerate partial shade.  Bothered by few pests or deseases.  Dead head if you really don't want more plants.  If you want to save seeds, plant after the last frost.  Plant where it can stretch to 2-4 foot.  Cut last year's growth  down to about 2 inches in the spring.

If your plant looses its vigor after several years, it's time to divide and/or seed new plants.  Divide in the autumn.   

In bloom, the flowers attract birds, butterflies and bees. They are especially nice at the back of daylilies or other lower perennials.  Planted on a fence line, it forms an attractive accent.  It is considered deer resistant.

There are several different varieties:  pink, purple, dwarf, tall, white and blue.  Most full nurseries carry at least one variety.

If you've searched the world for a plant with these qualities - consider you've just touched down.

Warning:  It is considered invasive in warm climates.  People who have ideal conditions, beware - it can sprout most anywhere and is difficult to eliminate because of the long tap root.  I've had no problems with this although mine is in partial shade and we do get hard winters.    

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