The most elaborately formed flowers belong to the umbels and none more so than Eryngium giganteum,
commonly known as Miss Willmott’s Ghost. The story goes that the
Edwardian plantswoman and gardener Ellen Willmott surreptitiously
introduced this Sea Holly, one of her favourite plants, to others by
sprinkling the seed in the gardens she visited, but the name could
equally apply to the plant's ghostly appearance, with its ruff of large,
prickly, steely-grey bracts that shine silver in the sun. The
heart-shaped foliage is also attractive and can be shown off to best
effect planted in gravel or shale gardens. As the summer moves to its
later stages, their jagged outlines and colouring are a good antidote to
the mounds and cushions of more vibrantly coloured perennials.
in bud, the whole plant reaches its peak in a blaze of silver in late
summer,the architectural veined flower heads turning pale buff as they
dry. The flowers are loved by insects, including butterflies, and once
they are over the plant decays beautifully, holding its structure
throughout the winter. The plant will reward you with a glamorous
late-summer display to set against grasses and other perennials, with
which they associate particularly well. Miss Willmott’s Ghost is also
perfect for use in dried flower arrangements.
Eryngium giganteum "Miss Willmott's Ghost" was awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993.
you can cut back flower stems after flowering the seed heads are a very
attractive feature so are usually left over winter. Take care since the
plant resents root disturbance. Use in Coastal or Gravel Gardens,
Informal Gardens, Flower Arranging, Borders and Beds, Wildlife Gardens
to attract Bees and Butterflies. Beloved of flower arrangers for their
striking foliage and flower heads.