footnote to an easy climb

two photos of a fabulous flower that I haven’t seen, so I got the images from the web. I was so close, or I thought I was. I’ll tell the story later.

(   They say: ‘specie estremamente rara a causa di raccolte indiscriminate e distruttive, minaciatta d’estinzione.’ Get it?  The last three words are in red.

(    And over in Vienna they say ‘selten bis sehr selten! gefahrdet!‘  That last word – endangered – is also red. And it has an umlaut; I’m still struggling with umlauts.

Here are some of its cousins, which grew – grow, probably – prolifically in the dry garden at St John’s:


They are eryngiums, known in English by the name of our native species, the sea holly. The first is Eryngium alpinum, also known as the Queen of the Alps. At St John’s we had Eryngium bourgatii, the bluer one, from the Pyrenees, and Eryngium giganteum, seen above with a euphorbia behind.

Another relation, Eryngium spinalba,  is found on the limestone mountains of France, near Gap. This one is not ‘indiscriminately and destructively gathered’, you can hardly touch it, although this enormous grasshopper seemed to be chewing away:


That’s all for now….

Post script. But years later I finally saw Eryngium alpinum growing in gardens in Pontresina, in Switzerland, and evidently self-seeding:


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