Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Globe Thistle: Global Disappointment

Have you ever tried to grow globe thistle (echinops)?

It's a stunning plant, with spherical blue flowers 2 inches in diameter. 

I love the frosted, ghostly quality of those flowers.  Look at them.

That's why I try to include globe thistle in my silver garden.

My history of trying to grow them is long and sad, a saga of breathlessly anticipated results followed by extreme mediocrity.. and, ultimately, banishment.

I vowed never to buy this plant again.

Nevertheless, each year it cluelessly reappears as an unwanted volunteer.

This year's volunteer, though, looked like it might be an exception to my ban on globe thistle.   Look at its stately vigor as it towers over the rest of the garden:

Those lower leaves are over 12 inches long, and the plant as a whole is angular, dignified, structural, striking.

But meanwhile, look at the extreme paucity of its flowers:

This little...uh, globe is just under an inch in diameter, smaller than a ping pong ball.  Yet it towers on a stately, swan-like neck:

Pathetic flowers, especially compared to the statuesque vigor of the rest of the plant.

Globe thistle is supposed to look like this:

The flowers are supposed to be 2 inches in diameter, for heaven's sake.

But all I get are these tiny sputniks.  They're not globes, they're globs.  And they're not sapphire blue, but more of a faded, washed out, grayish color

Once again, globe thistle underperforms. My only theory for this near-failure is that globe thistle likes its soil lean and well-drained.  Is the soil in my silver garden too rich for it?  I believe that happens when a plant is growing in soil that is too rich for its actual needs.

Globe thistle:  Global disappointment. 

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