Pincushion Flowers

I once read something that a gardening expert said to a woman who’s probably a lot like me. It went something like this: Madam, if you would spend the time and money on improving your soil that you spend on acquiring new plants, you would have a lovely garden. Sorry to have to paraphrase this remark and not to be able to attribute it.

This year, I’ve decided to follow the expert’s advice. I asked for a delivery of bark mulch for Mother’s Day and my son (the owner of a recently acquired pickup truck) responded to my request. Whenever I’ve visited the garden centre, it was to obtain more sea soil, not to buy more plants. At this point, all of the garden beds are looking very fine, with their bark mulch coverlets and well watered, lively plants.

Scabious 'Pink Mist'

I’ve been guilty of only one exception to the No New Plants rule: an irresistible Scabiosa columbaria ‘Pink Mist’. Scabious is the unlovely name assigned to about 80 species of perennials, annuals and biennials. I prefer the common name, Pincushion Flower, which is so descriptive of the centre of the flower head of this plant:  a dome with raised bumps all over its surface. My newly acquired ‘Pink Mist’ is nicely branched and glowing with health. I hope it lives a long and happy life. My garden is also home to a very small variety of Scabious, only about 8 inches tall, which comes in lavender, pink or white. All of the varieties of Scabious that I’ve tried have done well for me, in spite of my garden’s rather difficult conditions: a heavy clay soil, frequent winds and inadequate water, especially in long, dry summers when the surface well that provides water for the garden runs dry before the season is over.

Cephalaria gigantea

In addition to its own many forms, Scabiosa has some close relatives that I like to grow in my garden. One is Cephalaria gigantea (Giant Scabious). I have found that this plant grows easily from seed and returns each year. It can grow as tall as 6 feet. Another relative is Knautia macedonia (Crimson Scabious), worth growing for the colour of its flowers alone: a rare and rich deep red.

‘Pink Mist’ inspired me to try my hand at linocutting. I took a course years ago and remembered the general process, but not the details. I searched the web for more information and came across the amazing blog, Soulsong Art. Here, I found detailed instructions, complete with photographs of the linocut process at various stages. Perfect.

Scabious 'Pink Mist', linocut, 6-3/4" x 6-3/4"

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