Make room for Astrantia major involucrata “Shaggy” for masses of star like flowers in July

I fell in love with a whole range of Astrantia during my caretaker role as Estate manager for a prestigious London country estate. 
Durable and long flowering these tough sun/shade loving range of perennials have been selected for their large flowers, their masses of flowering stems and colour diversity, making them a perfect addition to formal or informal displays.
Astrantia major involucrata ‘Shaggy’ is a large flowered herbaceous perennial with a mounding habit. Its fragrant flowers open tinged pink and fade to a white with green flashes. The upright stems host flowers that are umbrella-shaped, star-like, and up to 3cm across.

Astrantia major was introduced to the British Isles in the 16th century and is now established in various UK gardens and parks. It’s natural habitat is mountain meadows, grasslands, forests, clearings and often beside streams. A number of varieties of Astrantia are in commercial production and named varieties are often available from specialist nurseries and growers.

The variety ‘Shaggy’ is often sold as ‘Margery Fish’, it was chosen by the famous plants-woman at her East Lambrook home in Somerset.
Beautiful star like flowers of greenish-white produce larger than average umbels aloft rich green mounds of foliage.
It is happy growing in full sun as long you add plenty of organic matter, leaf mould, manure (humus) and keep the soil moist, add a good thick layer of mulch around the plant, and water young plants well in dry weather. The Astrantias, are also good for floristry.
It has been awarded The RHS Award of Garden Merit.

 

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Growing Astrantia for yourselves;
Choosing a named form of Astrantia for your garden may seem like an impossible decision but to make the selection easier I have rated my top ten Astrantia varieties.
By seed
Astrantia seeds may require a period of cold, to break the seed dormancy. Placing your plant pot or a sealed ziplock bag with quality seed compost in a fridge will trick the seed into thinking it has under gone a winter and speed up the germination process.

Sow fresh seed or pre-chill – Start by sowing a few seeds in spring in a greenhouse or light windowsill. As you provide warmer temps of 15-20C and keep damp but not wet in a light window or glasshouse propagator.

Germination can take anything from 30-365 days but is well worth the wait.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual 9cm square pots (saves on space).

Grow them on for at least the first winter in a greenhouse and plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

You can start perennial seeds in either late summer or fall, indoors in the spring, or direct seed in the spring.

Sowing in late summer or autumn will give your plants a head start on the following season. They will have all winter to continue growing roots and they will be ready to bloom the following year. However they may need some winter protection.

When starting seedlings indoors, treat them like any other seed and move them outside, after your last frost date. Harden them off, before planting.

Direct seed plants that don’t like having their roots disturbed, like poppies, or seeds that need a period of cold to germinate, like Lupines, in early spring. Be sure to mark the spot, so you don’t think they’re weeds, and keep the area moist while the tiny seedlings mature.
If you have the space, perennial seedlings can be kept in a separate nursery bed, where you can keep an eye on them and pamper as necessary. At the start of their second year, you can move them to a permanent spot in the garden… and start all over again with new seedlings.

As an award winning, 45 year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large private gardens or estates.

I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. 

I blog to share my passion for Horticulture with as many people as possible using whatever means are at our disposal, you can follow me on Twitter, FacebookGoogleeBay and Instagram if that’s your thing or at the very least please click follow in the top left hand corner and I look forward to sharing my next post with you.

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