How to grow Achillea (ak-ill-e-a)

Named after Achilles, who is said to have used it as a treatment for his wounds (Compositae). Yarrow, milfoil. Hardy perennials, for the border or border rock garden.

Species cultivated : Border A. filipendulina, large, plate-like heads of yellow flowers in summer; cultivars include 'Gold Plate', 4-5 feet, 'Flowers of Sulphur , 2 feet, soft sulphur yellow flowers and powdered leaves, and 'Canary Bird', 1-2 feet. A. millefolium, form of the native 'Old Man's Pepper' ; cultivars are `Cerise Queen', 2 feet, with rose-cerise flowers in July in a loose head, `Crimson Beauty, 24feet, and 'Fire King, 2-2.5 feet (probably the best). A. ptarmica (sneeze-wort), 2 feet, a white-flowered native, has several good cultivars of which 'The Pearl', 2feet, with small, tightly double flowers is the best. A. sibirica, 1 feet, white flowers; `Perry's White , 2-3 feet, is a fine variety.

Rock Garden A. ageratifolia, 4 inches, grey-white leaves and white flowers. A. chrysocoma, mats of grey leaves, flowers yellow on 4-6 inch stems. A. huteri, silvery tufts, short-stemmed white flowers. A. 'King Edward' (syn. A. x lewsii)4 inches, grey-green mats, buff-yellow flowers all summer. A. portae, 4 inches, grey leaves, white flowers. A. prichardii 4 inches, grey mats, white flowers. A. rupestris, 4-6 inches, foliage creeping, sprays of white flowers, May. A. tomentosa. 9 inches. leaves grey, flowers goldenyellow; needs protection from winter dampness; var. aurea flowers deeper yellow.

Cultivation Achilleas flourish in almost any soil, provided it is not sour or waterlogged, and revel in sunshine. They prefer lime but are quite tolerant of acid conditions. They have tiny or double daisy-like flowers collected in loose clusters or flat heads and bloom in summer. Foliage is fern-like, stems stiff and unbreakable and the fragrance somewhat pungent. Some varieties are recommended for winter arrangements of dried flowers, the best being A. filipendula, *Gold Plate', and if the heads are stored in powdered alum until quite dry, they last well and retain all their colour. Plant in autumn or spring or divide the plants at this time. Sow seed 1/2 inch deep in early summer. Border kinds should be lifted and divided every three or four years and the shoots cut down in winter.

 



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