In my years of gardening, I have encountered some audacious
charmers. It was usually love at first sight, but looks can
be so deceiving. When I tried to tame these beautiful bullies
that were no longer welcome in my garden, months of hard labor
ensued. Here are my experiences with some of them.
holly in bloom
Ideal Garden Plant?
Anyone who has seen a sea holly (Eryngium spp.) in
full bloom would likely agree that the ball-like flowers with
spiny bracts are a splendid sight. They provide a structural
element to a border and make attractive dried flowers. They
also have remarkable drought, salt and neglect tolerance and
are mostly insusceptible to pests and diseases. Their only
requirement is full sun. In other words, they're practically
an ideal garden plant. I thought so and bought a
half dozen. In hindsight, I should have bought six fewer.
During their first summer, the sea hollies behaved well enough,
remaining where they had been planted. The long-lasting flowers
were the stars of my border for many weeks. However,
they self-seeded liberally and the following spring, my garden
was covered with sprouting sea hollies. Adding to the chaos
were the numerous plantlets produced at the bases of the mother
plants. After deadheading well before they dropped
their seeds and removing all new unwanted growth, I thought
I had the invasion under control. I was wrong; the next year
I had even more sea hollies. The bold plant was determined
to stay and had colonized my garden as well as the lawn. Its
secret weapon was its long, strong taproot. As with dandelions,
if even a tiny piece of root is left in the soil it will produce
a new plant. Three years later, I'm still pulling the odd
one. If you like this plant, I suggest you grow sterile hybrids
only, such as 'Sapphire Blue' or 'Sunny Jackpot.'