Pink Mist

'Pink Mist'
Pincushion Flower;
or, Small Scabious


"I have a garden of my own
Shining with flowers of every hue
I love it dearly while alone
But I shall love it more with you."

-Thomas Moore
(1779-1852)

   

The "Small Scabious" (Scabiosa columbaria ) is native to southern Europe, northeast Africa, & western Asia, where it grows typically in dry chalk grasslands. It is an extremely hardy but relatively shortlived perennial that can look very worn out after a few years, but is sometimes revived by being dug up & divided in early spring or in fall.

The cultivar 'Pink Mist' has a lengthy bloom period from late spring or the very start of summer until the first couple frosts of autumn. It grows in droughty poor soil. In our rainy winters it is at some risk of rotting during dormancy. A winter mulch of something like large maple leaves which provide a barrier against excessive moisture during rainfall, or the problem can be ameliorated just selecting a location with extremely sharp drainage, such as a stony ledge. A location in full sun is essential on Puget Sound, but inland or further south it can do well in a little shade.

Our soils are naturally acidic, but pincushion flowers prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soils, so it can be assisted by a little lime, or a piece of chalkboard chalk inserted into the root once a year.

Essential for the butterfly garden, the normal blue variety is even named 'Butterfly Blue.' The 'Pink Mist' variant originated as a sport of the normal soft pale blue, & was started from a single plant found in Ireland that produced a section of pink flowers. It continues to be propagated by cuttings or division.

Deadheading keeps it blooming into fall. It is apt to have an interuption in flowering during the summer, which is the cue to sheer it a little, which will keep it compactly leafed besides inducing rebloom.

It can be susceptible to powdery mildew so should not be planted around other plants with a similar susceptibility, & should be given plenty of sunlight, minimal overhead watering, & kept uncrowded for good air circulation.

   



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