Miss Wilmott's Ghost - Knowledgebase Question

Mansfield, MA
Question by ldobro1
August 20, 1999
I recently received Jackson Perkins catalog and discovered that Sea Holly's common name is Miss Wilmott's Ghost who they say was a famous English gardener. As Wilmott is my maiden name, how would I find out more about Miss Wilmott - and what made her a famous gardener? Also, would the Sea Holly be suited to growth in my area - what are its care requirements? Thank you for any info you can provide!


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Answer from NGA
August 20, 1999

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Sea Holly, Blue Star (Eryngium alpinum) is a striking and dramatic border plant, bearing large, silvery-blue flower heads on blue tinted stems in late summer. Very popular with flower arrangers for cutting and drying.

Ellen Willmott was one of the great characters of British gardening: wealthy, good-looking and tough as old boots. No doubt she was a real hit among her 104 uniformed gardeners, since she used to inspect their gardening trugs for discarded plants she did not think were weeds.

You've got to hand it to her, though; Miss Willmott knew a good plant when she had one and was not shy about sharing it. When visiting other gardens, she's said to have surreptitiously scattered seeds of her preferred plants.

One of her favorites for this purpose was the silvery sea holly, Eryngium giganteum, hence the plant's common name, Miss Willmott's Ghost.

Sea Holly is a hardy perennial that thrives in full sun and light, well-draining soil. It requires very little care and needs water only during dry spells. You can mulch with gravel in the winter to keep the crowns of the plants dry.

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