Sunday, 3 March 2013

Ruby Treasures

A little touch of ruby red and seashell pink can be found in many of my shade gardens. The delicate fronds of heuchera are accompanied by two of my newer favourites, the geum rivale or Water Avens, and astrantia major or masterwort. These delicate flowers nod in the breeze, dancing amongst the stronger leaves of hosta and the upright plumes of astilbe. I find they offer a sweet contrast, slightly romantic and completely charming.

My Garden, 2012 | A pretty native, Geum rivale Water Avens
The bell shaped flowers of Geum rivale or Water Avens grow on long, arching stems held above basal rosettes. This perennial really prefers moist soil and is native to much of North America and parts of Europe found growing in bogs, near streams and in other wetland conditions. 

It is reported that Water Avens will flower throughout summer, from June to late July. Perhaps in the right conditions mine would do the same, but my lovely girl in the photos above and below flowers happily in late May, early June, then no more. I fully expect a lack of repeat bloom has to do with the lack of desired water. 

Despite that, mine has been established under the shade of a Miss Kim Lilac and for three years, happily flowering in early summer at the same time the lilac begins to bud out. I love the harmony of colour between the two plants. 

Growing Conditions: Hardy zone 3-7. Height 18-24" cm. Spread 12" cm. Divide in early spring, cut back for repeat bloom.

My Garden, 2012 | A pretty native, Geum rivale, Water Avens
under the shade of the Miss Kim Lilac with a blanket of creeping phlox

I have to admit that it took me a while to warm up to the astrantia. I would pass by it in the nursery, intrigued by the pincushion like blossoms, but standing alone, it does not exactly come across as a true garden beauty...and so I would leave it. 

Finally though, I could resist the temptation no longer, and several varieties of astrantia now call my garden home. It is in mingling with other shade plants that the astrantia truly shines and I have come to adore it. 

The soft ruby colour of the Hadspen's Blood variety and the pale bloom of Roma add contrast in the hydrangea border and echo the lush pink of peony blooming at the same time. Though astrantia prefer rich, moist, well drained soils, once established they can survive on less water.

Growing Conditions:: Hardy zone 3a-7. Height 18-24" cm. Spread 24" cm. Divide mature clumps in early spring.

My Garden 2012: Astrantia major "Hadspen Blood" and Roma, in the hydrangea border.

My Garden 2012: Astrantia major Roma

My Garden 2012: Pretty in pink: Astrantia major "Hadspen Blood", Masterwort

The flowers look gorgeous in mixed bouquets and can look fresh for up to a week in the vase. This perennial is also versatile as flower gives way give way to equally pretty seed heads that can be left to offer garden interest and the hope for new offspring.

Until next time - wishes for peace, love & joy!


  1. I am very partial to Astrantia as is a no care plant here in our quick draining garden. I like that you are advising about pairing it with other shrubs. Gorgeous photos!!

  2. Thank you for the lovely comment, it was so nice to read about your garden adventures this morning!