Thursday, March 25, 2010

Scabiosa atropurpurea

Scabiosa atropurpurea
 Pincushion Flower or 'Mournful Widow'
There are about 16 species of Scabious native to France, Spain and Portugal and this is one species which always gets attention because of the almost black flowers. In gardens it likes well drained, gritty or sandy soil and is best treated as a short lived perennial or summer annual. I have grown it in years gone by, and recently its name came up in a book I am reading where it was used to decorate the table for a 'mock funeral feast to mark the most ludicrous of personal misfortunes' by the decadent main character. The book is A Rebours by J.K. Huysmans and it was published in Paris in 1884: 'The dining room, draped in black, opened out on to a garden metamorphosed for the occasion, the paths being strewn with charcoal, the ornamental pond edged with black basalt and filled with ink, and the shrubberies replanted with cypresses and pines.The dinner itself was served on a black cloth adorned with baskets of violets and scabious'

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