Cambridge has had a pretty odd start to the summer - persistent rain, blazing sunshine and everything inbetween - but despite this the gardens are looking glorious this June. Outdoor spaces are at their most vibrant at this time of year, thanks to the plethora of flowers in bloom, and June’s plant of the month, Astrantia Roma, looks stunning right now.
Astrantias (also known as ‘masterwort’ or ‘Hattie’s pincushion’) are native to central and Eastern Europe and have been cultivated in the UK for centuries. Astrantia Roma’s flowering season typically stretches from June to September, which is longer than other varieties of Astrantia.
Star-shaped flower heads have pincushions of tiny flowers at their centre, framed by a rosette of dusty mauve, papery petals which contrast beautifully with the maroon of the flowers’ centre. An abundance of blooms spring from each of the plants’ wiry stems, above glossy mid-green palmate leaves. Astrantia Roma makes for long-lasting cut-flower displays and with a height and spread of 60cm, this fairly compact plant is ideal for smaller Cambridge city gardens.
Astrantia Roma pairs especially well with ornamental grasses such as Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hair Grass), for an elegant, contemporary look in containers and borders. These plants are happy in full sun or dappled shade, so are also a good choice for courtyards.
Astrantia Roma needs fertile, moisture-retentive soil to thrive, so incorporate plenty of organic matter when planting. Plant seeds in September for blooms next summer. If planting young plants, water regularly to give them the best start. Fully hardy and resistant to slugs and snails, Astrantia Roma requires little maintenance other than watering during dry spells.
Unless using for cut or dried flowers, deadhead regularly to encourage further flowering. As well as looking fabulous, its flowers provide food for bees and butterflies.
Beautiful, useful, easy to maintain and beneficial to wildlife – it’s no surprise that Astrantia Roma’s many qualities have earned it an RHS Award of Garden Merit.
If you would like advice on landscaping or garden design, please do get in touch.