Hello fellow readers,
Last week Queen Anne created quite a buzz and this week we have the Bachelor to talk about – Bachelor Buttons, Centaurea cyanus, also known as cornflower. They’re an old fashioned flower that have beautified gardens for centuries, first in Europe just as Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota. They grow well in full sun and are easy keepers.
In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love. If the flower faded too quickly it was a sign that the man’s love was not returned.
Just like the reality show, there’s a new bachelor every year. Bachelor Buttons are an annual plant rather than a perennial which comes back year after year. He self-seeds vigorously (figures) and grows 16 to 35 inches tall with grey-green branched stems. The flowers are about an inch and half and intense blue. In the past he often grew as a weed in crop fields, hence the name cornflower. So is he a weed or wildflower? The same question we asked of Queen Anne’s Lace.
In Europe he’s now endangered by agricultural intensification, largely due to the overuse of herbicide destroying his native habitat. Their conservation organization, Plantlife, named him one of 101 species to bring ‘back from the brink’. On the other hand, through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, Bachelor Buttons have naturalized in many parts of the world. He’s now found wild in every state except Alaska and is considered weedy or invasive by some authorities.
Rodale’s Organic Life published an article ‘Flowers For Borders’ that talks about controlling pests by planting the ‘11 best flowers for borders’ that will draw beneficial insects into your garden. Guess what, the Bachelor was the first on their list to attract ladybugs, lacewings, ground beetles and other insects that feed on pests. As a bonus, many of the beneficial bugs will also pollinate crops thereby increasing yields. The article explains that Bachelor Buttons have extrafloral nectaries, which means his leaves release nectar even when the flowers are not in bloom – a plant cologne so to speak.
So what about all the buzz of Queen Anne hooking up with the Bachelor? I’m sure you’ve seen them often commingling alongside the road. You wild thing!
Garden Dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org