Monday, April 20, 2009

Centaurea gymnocarpa, Fiordaliso di Capraia

Centaurea gymnocarpa with blue leafed succulent Kalanchoe grandiflora
and tall white Euphorbia ammak 'Variegata'

Centaurea gymnocarpa 'Silver Fountain'

This small silver shrub (90cm) is from the Isle of Capri, a place so wonderfully described by Australian writer Shirley Hazzard in her memoir of Graham Greene. I would like to be having my morning coffee in the Gran Caffe` in the piazzetta of Capri right now ..... looking up at the imposing rock face of the Monte Solaro, before going off to do some plant hunting.......dream on..
The genus Centaurea is named after the centaur Chiron who was a herbalist/doctor and Achilles' tutor in Greek mythology. Most species produce thistle like flowers in summer either mauve pink or yellow. Other species, and there are almost 90, occur across the Mediterranean especially in the Iberian peninsula where they are commonly called Cardo estrellado.
In the home garden,Centaurea don't like good garden soils or any irrigation .They do best in poor ,rocky stony soils like in their native habitat. Growth is too rapid in good soil and whole plant often falls apart from the centre. A raised garden bed with well drained soil is best and when combined with stiff cacti and succulents, the soft silvery foliage makes a wonderful contrast.
2017 update: I have plants in stock

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