Perennial Sea Holly

In the cutting garden annual flowers are in full production now churning out blooms on a daily basis. It’s like a production line. Annuals are programmed to reproduce by setting seed. Then they die. To prevent them from setting seed you need to pick all the flowers. The more you pick, the more will grow. And that’s brilliant. But there’s another group of plants that are also good for cutting.

Perennials are jolly useful too. It’s quite likely that some of the plants you already have in your garden will make brilliant cut flowers.

In my view Sea Hollies or Eryngiums are some of the most useful perennials you can grow. They are quite hardy and provide a lovely contrast in terms of form and colour to many other summer flowering plants. There are more than 250 Eryngiums you could grow but here are two of my favourites that are widely available.


Eryngium alpinum has large blue tinged egg shaped flowers. They grow to about 75-90cm/ two and a half to three feet tall. Originally from the Balkans these plants prefer a sunny spot in that magic spot…moist but free draining soil.

Eryngium bourgatiiEryngium bourgatii is probably the most vivid blue of all with smaller cone shaped flower heads. Not quite as tall as E. alpinum this one grows to about two feet/60cm high. Commonly known as the Mediterranean Sea Holly these plants also prefer full sun and hate waterlogged soil.

If you’ve not grow Eryngiums before I heartily recommend them. Give them a whirl and you’ll be able to enjoy them in your garden and cut them for the house. What’s more the bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects will love you forever!

Bee-with-EryngiumThe most common bee around here seems to be the Buff Tailed Bumble Bee shown in the photo above but I spotted this one below with a shiny black tail…

Do you know what this Bee is?

Thanks for reading.        Gillian 🙂

9 thoughts on “Perennial Sea Holly

  1. They are lovely plants, but sadly I haven’t got any. Must rectify that. Our most common bumble bee is also the buff tailed one. I have never seen the black tailed one – he is beautiful.

    1. Add them to your list Annette! That shiny black tailed bee was mesmerising. I thought it was a toy at first like one of those little helicopters – it looked like plastic!

  2. I love Eryngiums too, some of them are so blue they look unreal. I love E.alpinum but have you tried E. Bourgatii ‘ Pico’s Blue’? It is stunning.

  3. I love them too. I’ve just planted a E. bourgatii ‘picos blue’. I think that black-tailed insect is a fly, ‘cos it has only two wings. It’s pretty though.

      1. OK …. you got me wondering, so I looked it up in my trusty insect guide and I think you have a match with the hoverfly Volucella pellucens. That’s 15mm long apparently. Does that sound right?

      2. Thanks very much for that. I had no idea that hoverflies could look like this. It was probably about 15mm and the images I’ve just seen online seem to match your ID of this amazing creature so I’d say you are spot on.

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