Centaurea montana is not in the first rank of garden perennials. It is a bit of a spreader, never makes an eye-stopping display and is rather old fashioned. But, like so many plants, I like it because it is a plant I knew in my childhood.
Commonly called the perennial cornflower, it is a European native, including the British Isles (possibly – it could be naturalised) and is a low, easy-going plant. I remember it growing in my parents garden where it coped with shade and heavy clay soil, the rather weak stems each carrying a solitary, large bloom in beautiful blue. It was obvious that the first I planted in the garden is not typical but the white-flowered ‘Purple Heart’. Lovely as it is, and there are many selections of various colours, I now hanker for the plain blue.
It creeps steadily across the ground, which may be annoying, but it starts to bloom as early as April and there are a few flowers through most of summer. The leaves are green but slight hairy so can have a silvery grey look in the sun. It makes a good cut bloom.
The biggest problem with the plant is powdery mildew which can be unsightly in dry weather. If it strikes just shear the plant down and new growth will be clean – for a while at least.
There is a yellow-leaved cultivar called ‘Gold Bullion’, introduced by Blooms of Bressingham some time ago, which should be a gorgeous thing with the blue flowers above yellow leaves but I have found it tricky to grow well in the past, reacting as healthily as Dracula to bright sunlight. But, if I see it on my travels I will have to add it to the garden.
As a follow up to a recent post when I mentioned the roses in the hedge, the photos hardly displayed the beauty of the flowers. To correct this, here is Rosa arvensis:
and here is Rosa rubiginosa
And another plant doing its stuff for the first time; daylily ‘Red Suspenders’. This was introduced in 1990 and is an ‘unusual form’ daylily – not quite a spider but a UFO. It is a tetraploid and winter dormant, not evergreen. The flowers are supposed to be 20cm across and I don’t think these are, quite, but they are very big and very bold and its a keeper!