Growbag Blog Great Plants this Month Autumn

Serratula tinctoria var. seoanei

image of Louise Sims
Louise Sims

It is often said of plants: ‘should be more widely used’, or ‘not often seen in gardens’, and I am pretty sure I know why you could say that of my choice today. It is at its peak in October, and often into November, so it’s not going to make many sales in nurseries and even less in garden centres, because the plant buying public, if they do make a trip to either, are turning their thoughts to buying spring bulbs or (I daren’t even mention the ‘c’ word), to the forthcoming festive season!

So, this late flowering, hardy member of the aster family is well worth seeking out. It is often described as thistle-like or a knapweed, but please don’t let this put you off because it is a trusty and robust little plant that has a season way beyond its flowers. The RHS describes it as ‘compact and poised’, and while I don’t really go along with ‘compact’, ‘poised’ suits it down to the ground!

The foliage is good, dark green and very dissected, almost like a fern, while the upright, wiry stems hold masses of pinky mauve flowers which bear little antennae’ among the petals. Then come the delightful seed heads and on no account cut these down because throughout the winter, right up until March, the old skeleton will give you almost as much pleasure as when the plant is in full flower.

Excellent towards the front of the border, in a naturalistic or gravel garden, and very good with grasses. If you don’t go round your garden every day in the winter, which is something that I love to do, then plant it not too far from the front door or where you can see it from a window.

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

5 replies on “Serratula tinctoria var. seoanei”

You’re so encouraging Irene! Every speaker must love coming to your society meetings – what a smashing groups of gardeners. It really couldn’t have been more enjoyable or uplifting! Thank you so much for your support.

Lovely description of this little gem, which is now flowering in my garden. Have you ever saved seed and grown on plants from yours?

I was just about to order seeds of this little gem, and here it is in your feature!! I shall look forward to hatching it and seeing it in my gravel section – Chris H

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