In The Constellation Of Echinops It’s Bee Heaven And Never Mind The Drought


Watching the garden struggle over many rainless weeks,  I’ve been thinking more and more about drought-tolerant plants. And here’s a real winner – Echinops or globe thistle. It comes from the Mediterranean, but there are now many garden cultivars to choose from, some less sprawling than others.

I grew mine from seed a couple of springs ago. The plant here, is one of the seedlings I planted out at the allotment. It has had no attention from me this year, and its end of the bed has had not been watered. The prickly globes are just coming into flower and yesterday the bumble bees were all over them. And of course there can be nothing better for the vegetable plot than a few star attractions for the pollinators.

And then at the other end of the bed from the Echinops, and the tangible result of some good pollinating, is an already fat Crown Prince squash. I’m amazed at the size of it, given my erratic hand-watering of the mother-plant a couple of metres away.  I’m thinking of hiring it out to Cinderella. At this rate it will provide her, or even me, with a very handsome coach. Just need to look out for a good team of horses. Oh yes, and a few slick coachmen.


55 thoughts on “In The Constellation Of Echinops It’s Bee Heaven And Never Mind The Drought

  1. blue hedgehogs on stilts – irresistible to bees and the eye. I do wonder about drought planting until the wet summers return to suggest otherwise. That is a mighty squash without the rains – it could have been a contender like Branson says in On the Waterfront!

  2. I planted some Echinops plugs this spring. They haven’t put on much growth so I assume they will overwinter and grow again next year? I do like them for their structure and also bee attraction. What to plant is a constant dilemma. I have changed my mind at least twice since moving here!

    1. Did you plant them out as plugs? Or grow them on a bit first? I’m always a bit bemused by plugs. It’s taken me a while to realise that some things really need to go into a pot for a while. Yours should overwinter though, as long as the S & S don’t decide to eye them up while they’re still small.

      1. These were quite large sized plugs so they went into the garden, as did some Eryngium which are flowering now. Other smaller plugs I have potted on and will plant out next spring. I find the plugs usually are big enough not to get eaten, although saying that I’m not sure there are 6 Echinops any more. Will they die down completely then? If so that might be a problem when they emerge next year.

      1. Mine started out as three small nursery starts and has replicated, reproduced, and ventured all over the yard. I wasn’t aware lavender was such a traveler.

  3. I’ve grown Echinops ritro for the first time this year and it’s a star (ha ha!). Lasts nicely too. Stevie has a monster pumpkin and after the rain it might just be the size of a pumpkin carriage by the end of the week!

      1. Since I was kid loved pumpkins. At one time, after highschool started growing my own that I sold to my neighbors. And did you know that the pumpkin veins are used as food back here?

      2. I used to grow them in my Nairobi garden. We also ate the very young soft leaves as well. They are a highly nutritious food. The flowers are good too. You can dip them in batter and fry them 🙂

      1. Not a huge amount, but a very short sharp instant drenching this afternoon. A bit niggardly on the whole, but grateful for all droplets.

  4. Weren’t the horses transformed mice? Can you find a few of them? I’m always delighted to see bees flourishing – there’s been a paucity here the last few years. J’s an apiariist manqué: his mnemonic for the numberplate of a recently bought car is “buy 49 bees”!

    1. Shropshire at least seems to have plenty of bees, bumbles anyway. I don’t know about the state of honey bees. They’ve been prone to diseases in recent years. And yes the horses were made from mice. I try to pretend I haven’t got those at the allotment. They steal the newly sown pea seeds.

  5. I love the colour and explosive shape of these easy to care for plants I think I’ll have a look around to see if they can be grown here.

    1. They ought to work in your domain. I think the RHS site said they prefer good drainage. Mine at the allotment couldn’t be in heavier soil, so they’re pretty forgiving. I think they grow wild in arid scrub in the Mediterranean.

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