Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thistle make you Smile

While I'm out in the desert, finding that the native Cirsium thistles' seeds have all been eaten by bugs, here are the ones in the crevice garden.

Centaurea urvillei. 

Get you some.  
Soft yellow, not 12" (30cm) tall, red mid-vein to the leaf. Flowers positively structural.  Xeric as a lavender, but not moreso. (And, therefore, I expect, incapable of escaping a garden in a dry climate). Our bumblebees are all about it.  

Centaurea drabifolia 
is the beauty pageant winner in crevice. (especially with Moltkia petrea nearby). Waaaay petite.  Under 4 inches (10cm) and lays flat like an odalisque. Blooms hold for a few weeks, and there are several sexy subspecies, one of which floccosa, is cloaked in wooly white fur.  All are somewhat xeric and seem quite perennial. 

Centaurea deflexa is not well documented, in fact, this may be the first photo on the web, according to google.  It seems like it's going to live forever; it has that feeling. I'm not sure why it's my favorite. It does have nice sized booms that lay sideways on the ground.  Maybe that it has survived a lot of abuse, from seedpot to the sand mound, and doesn't complain it at all.  Three plants are becoming a wild shag-carpet stool cover, and one has made some politely short rhizomes near the plant.  
I'm not worried; I'm stoked.  More of that plant!

Centaurea montis-borlae 
has a pretty classic bachelor's button or strawflower bloom, but with some nice goth dark eyelashes.  Also a flat-layer under 3" (7cm) with fun, felted leaves.  It comes from crevices in nature but doesn't seem to need them in garden. I like centaureas for their ruggedness, feeding generalist native pollinators, being architectural A.F., and rocking the metal plant vibe.  We'd be fools in dryish gardens not to keep more of them. It's taken years to build up a little suite of species in my own garden, so let's hope that growers gather and share their seed so we can all have of bit of the Strawflower/Thistle rainbow in early summer.

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