Echium plantagineum

(Echium lycopsis]

Viper's Bugloss (UK and USA)

This distinctive hardy annual from Europe has mid-green ¡eaves and upturned blue or pale purple bell-shaped flowers from mid-summer onwards. Although it normally grows up to 90crn (3ft), several lower-growing forms at 30cm (1ft) are available, including Blue Bedder' and "Monarch Dwarf Hybrids' with blue, bink, lavender and white flowers Several other species of ech;um can be grown nthegarden. neluding the bushy, hardy biennial Echium rubrum. From early to midsummer it displays 12mm Rjjtn) long bright red tubular fiowers with eye catching yellow stamens. Another species, Echium vulgare, the Common Viper's Bugloss is a hardy biennial butisinvariabiygrownasan annual It is relatively short [60cm/ 2ft high] bushy and compact and bears tubular. 12mm [V?in) long, purple-budded, violet flowers from mid to late summer. Echium vulgare and Echium plantagineum are both natives of the Brilish Isles E. vulgare is found n grassy places on light soils near the coast, while E plantagineum grows in sandy areas near the sea. in the South-west. Height: 75-9Qcrn (2)4-3ft) Spread: 45cm (1 !£ft} Cultivation: tight, dry soil and a sunny position are needed, although partial shade also suits it. Propagation: During spring, sow seeds 6mm (fiin] deep in their flowering positions, thinning the seedlings lo 15cm [6in] apart. Seeds can also be sown in autumn, but wait until spring before thinning them. For earlier flowers, sow seeds n loam-based seed comnost in late winter or early spring at 13°C (55°F). Prick out the seedlings into boxes when they are large enough to handle, and harden them off before planting them out.

Echinops ritro is besl planted in large clumps, where its dominant flower heads blend with a background grouping of Campanula lactiflora with small bell-shaped light lavender-blue flowers.

Echium plantagineum in one of its dwarf forms is of greater use in a garden than taller types It is ideally suited for annual borders, and also for bringing height and shape contrast to small ornamental grasses.

R»ght Eryngium bourgatii

This hardy herbaceous perennial displays strikingly attractive foliage and flower heads much cherished by flower arrangers for home decoration.

Below right Eupatorium purpureum At ro purpure um

This exciting hardy and reliable herbaceous perennial with purplish foliage and rosy-lilac flowers is ' admirable for mixed or herbaceous borders, as well as wild gardens

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