Cephalaria gigantea?

christinmk z5b eastern WADecember 19, 2013

Anyone grow this plant? I've thought about trying it for YEARS now. Last night I was watching a movie and noticed it planted in a garden in a couple scenes. Maybe it was the backdrop plants that made it stand out and look so pretty. Maybe Johnny Depp in the foreground helped a bit too. ;-) There's no telling.

Do you like the plant? The flowers are so pale, it makes me wonder if they dance that fine line between subtle and insipid. What say you?

Also, do you find it reseeds a good deal? I've flirted with a few plants in the Scabiosa family and some tend to be weedy. Both my Knautias and S. ochroleuca are on my top PITA re-seeders list. Pretty ironic I'm asking this though, since I've tried to grow Cephalaria gigantea from seed twice before with zero success. LOL!
CMK

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I've always liked it. The foliage is interesting enough without the flowers, and it makes a very good mid-border see-through plant. It's not a show stopper, but one of those plants that usefully takes up space between the showier things. Mine hasn't seeded around enough to even share with anybody. The two or three seedlings I've found have been put to good use here. It definitely isn't like knautia, which has invaded practically all the open spaces in the garden.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:21PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

If you have space go for it. I got rid of mine because it was too big for my micro garden and the foliage was rather coarse.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 4:46PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Thanks you two for the input!

-MG, that is good to know it doesn't reseed as enthusiastically as Knautia. Ever year I say I will stay on top of the deadheading, but naturally never do! LOL. What kind of soil/conditions is yours planted in? Does it do dry well?

I'm definitely going to have to give it one more try via seed if I don't find a plant locally.
CMK

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 6:14PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

It does our version of dry quite well. However, remember that we are officially in drought is we get less than 32" of rain annually.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

This plant bloomed for the first time in my garden this past summer. I planted it because I wanted an uncommon, enormous see-through plant. It was lovely and dramatic while in bloom, both garden visitors and insect pollinators alike made over it quite a bit. However, it only stayed in bloom for me for a little less than three weeks. I deadheaded and it showed no signs of wanting to rebloom. My summer was mild with adequate rainfall. Not sure if it will reseed yet. All in all, I like it but it has not turned into a favorite yet.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 12:55AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-mad-g, thanks for the info!

-ispahan, good to hear your opinion too. That is why I liked the look of it too! Love plants that add height without blocking any views of the garden. How long have you had it? Maybe next year once its more established it will bloom longer....? Have you maybe thought about Thalictrum and bronze fennel as alternative see-thru plants? Those are my favs for that purpose, as well as the tall bugbanes.
CMK

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 1:29AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Another plant that's tall and see through--Callirhoe digitata--just like C. involucrata except it's tall with the flowers up and down the grey green stems. Gorgeous.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 6:56AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Another plant that's tall and see through--Callirhoe digitata--just like C. involucrata except it's tall with the flowers up and down the grey green stems. Gorgeous.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 6:57AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

This type of thread is one of the main reasons I follow GW, and in particular this forum. It introduces me to a plant to which I haven't given much (or in some cases any) thought and then gathers hands-on experience from real gardeners.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 10:00AM
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scottyboipdx(8)

I think they are amazingly beautiful...but too big for my tiny garden, sadly. I stumbled on a garden one day here in Portland that had a nice, large patch of them and was stunned...they were so gorgeous! I actually did a blog post about the garden last year...it's not all about the Cephalaria, but there are quite a few pics of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden with cephalaria!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 11:20AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-scotty, thanks for sharing. I remember seeing your post on that btw ;-) Their fennel was especially impressive!
CMK

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 1:46PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I have never had any scabiosa survive the winter in my garden though my neighbor has a blue one that is several years old. I wouldn't mind having Johnny Depp standing in my garden, sure to add some beauty and would be a real neighborhood attraction, better than scabiosa any day. Do you think he would survive our winters?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 12:52PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-mnwsgal, have you ever tried Knautia? I think it is pretty hardy...

LOL! I second that. Probably one of the best pieces of garden art you could get! Maybe if you got him some nice garden shears he could reenact ESH and whip you up some nice topiaries, lol. ;-)

Ps. he strikes me as a plant/person that would enjoy warmer climates...
CMK

This post was edited by christinmk on Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 14:28

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 2:27PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Oh, yah, I forgot knautia. I have a couple of the shorter ones that are hardy here. The taller one did not survive though it was tried several times.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 3:39PM
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kms4me

I have given cephalaria gigantea eight years in my garden to impress me favorably and have decided that is long enough. Despite its size, it is completely underwhelming to me, small pale flowers over big, blaah foliage that is beloved by beetles. Garden visitors never fail to be unimpressed when I point it out to them as they don't notice it on their own.

It should make a large addition to my compost pile this spring.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:36AM
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Campanula UK Z8

I am afraid it disappeared from my garden also - the foliage was coarse and and the small flowers were insignificant, simply vanishing in the general hurly-burly. On the other hand, I have had (slightly) better luck with the smaller cephalaria leucantha and even smaller scabious ochraleuca - although something about the flower shapes and that pale straw colour tends to make them a tad invisible also. I like pale yellows, as a rule.....but I dunno, all these scabious types do tend to fade into insignificance, even the giant versions.........guess subtlety is not my forte.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:57AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Kate, I remember you telling me when you sent seeds a few years back that you had yet to be impressed by it.

It sure is nice to see you posting here! Thanks for the comment ;-)

-campanula, same here. I love light yellow in general, but in certain flowers it tends to come out looking insipid. Not sure if they are just on the paler side of light yellow, or if the smaller flowers make less of an impression.

When you say your S. ochroleuca is small...what size does that mean exactly? Mine is fairly large...2.5-3ft tall and a tad wider. As a whole I do like this plant (despite it re-seeding with too much enthusiasm). It has a nice billowy texture and a particularly nice presence in the autumn garden.
CMK

This post was edited by christinmk on Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 13:50

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Yeah, mines about 2feet, but it stays much tighter than the knautia macedonica, which looks neat for a month or so then flops over into a really unsightly mess (although I do love those deep red flowers). The ochraleuca stalks remain fairly upright - providing a reasonably well behaved clump rather than the usual shambolic mess caused by my craze for tall perennials and crappy staking skills.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:18PM
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