Eryngiums, House & Garden

Sometimes the house quietly slips into a “Grey Gardens” mode, such as when a vase full of eryngiums turn spidery and dessicated, and I still can’t bear to throw them away. These were bought at Christmas, when I splurged on cut flowers. Hard to imagine they were once shiny metallic and intensely blue.





This is one of those infuriating plants that rightfully should grow in my garden but so far has refused. Maybe Ms. Willmott never discreetly scattered seeds of the eryngo bearing her name on heavy clay like mine. (The story, possibly apocryphal, is Ms. Willmott flung this seed out of her pockets while you weren’t looking, because she felt this plant would improve anyone’s garden. The ghostly progeny appeared next spring, causing you much consternation as to how it came to be in your garden. What a prankster!) But this winter there’s strong basal growth on one eryngo out of three I planted in fall, just your garden-variety Eryngium giganteum/Miss Willmott’s Ghost, which is, take your pick, biennial or perennial, depending on who’s doing the talking. In any case, this could be the year eryngos take off. (How many times have I said that, I wonder.) I’m sure once a single eryngo shakes its copious seed into my soil, a couple seeds will find some spot to their liking. Just as the poppies prefer seeding into the pavement around the back porch, not in the garden. I’m flexible and have my priorities straight. Plants first. But it’s like pushing a boulder uphill to get a known prolific self-seeder to get comfy in the garden.

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10 Responses to Eryngiums, House & Garden

  1. These photos make me wish I hadn’t tossed mine when they started to fade.

  2. Ryan Miller says:

    I went a little crazy with eryngos this year (thanks for supplying the plural!). I bought three varieties this winter in sales: Eryngium x tripartitum, Eryngium varifolium and ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’ AND I’m raising three from seed: Eryngium bourgatii, Eryngium agavifolium and ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’. Hopefully I won’t regret all these. Usually I have only a vague idea of where new plants will go when I buy them, but I actually have great places in mind for all these plants.

  3. Scott says:

    Even in death they are beautiful. It’s always amusing to me how every gardener has at least one plant that, however easy to grow for everyone else, they simply can’t get to grow. Believe it or not, I have awful, awful luck with nasturtiums…yes, nasturtiums.

  4. Denise says:

    Loree, I bet your eryngos are wintering over nicely in the shade pavillion.
    Ryan, my theory is these tap-rooted plants should squeeze in everywhere, but so far that theory hasn’t worked. Might have to rethink that.
    Scott, nasturtiums!

  5. Have you tried E. planum or are they just too plan-um for you? They grow very well, clay or no.

  6. Les says:

    This is a plant I have to touch when I see it. Your pictures are very nice and seasonally appropriate, Big Eddie would likely approve.

  7. Pam/Digging says:

    Your writing is such a pleasure to read! As for Miss Willmott, scattered seeds did nothing in my garden either. I’ll have to try again.

  8. Denise says:

    Dustin, I think I might have seen a bloom from E. planum once upon a time.
    Les, I can’t keep my hands off plants either, and they bear the scars to prove it.
    Pam, I saw your sad Agave americana. Let me know if you’re looking for a small replacement in spring.

  9. I share your (bad) luck with eryngos. But I keep trying. They are such a fascinating and unique addition to the garden. Guess there’s a bit of Ms. Willmott in us all.

  10. I have babies. you may have them. They will bloom for you.

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