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E. bourgatii, from Spain and the Pyrenees, has three first-rate cultivars, one of the best being 'Picos Blue'. It's very similar to the parent but is slightly bluer, larger and more robust, with the same beautiful spiny rosette of grey-green leaves with prominent white veins and pale green flowers. Good alternatives are 'Oxford Blue', which has been given the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society, and 'Picos Amethyst'. Like E. alpinum, It is wonderfully tactile and is best planted to the front of a border. Provide poor, free-draining soil, and ideally a position at the foot of a wall where the soil doesn't stay soaking wet over winter.
Cultivar: Picos Blue
Flower colour: Light green
Foliage colour: Light green
Sun exposure: Full sun
Skill level: Beginner
Time to divide plants: April to May
The blues of any of the various Eryngium plants make a lovely statement in the flower garden and is wonderful for attacting wildlife. Bees and butterflies visit the flowers in abundance and birds visit the seedheads.
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I was surprised ro read that this plant is "wonderfully tactile". If mine is anything to go by, it's tactile only if you enjoy grasping very sharp spikes. This really is like holly, unlike E. alpinum which looks sharp but has soft bracts.
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