Named for the famous Dutch Delft blue pottery, Nigella papillosa ‘Delft Blue’ is an eye catching hardy annual with petals in varying shades of blue and grey, each flower displays intricate deep rich-purple stamens in the centre.
The 4 to 5cm (2in) flowers grow to around 90cm (32in) tall, and stand above attractive feathery foliage. They bloom throughout summer, from July through to October. They make a splendid addition to mixed beds and border displays and the flowers attract and feed bees as well as other beneficial insects.
Nigella earns its common name of Love-in-a-Mist from the tangle of ferny, fennel like foliage that forms a mist around the flowers. In addition to their use as a good cut-flower, the foliage makes a good ‘filler’ for any vase. After flowering, the plants produce unusual seed pods that can be used in fresh or dried arrangements.
Nigella is ridiculously easy to grow. A hardy annual, it can be sow early in spring or sown directly where it is to flower. Sowing to flowering takes just three months. The flowers are well suited for traditional cottage garden settings or plant in a meadow where the soil is a little on the dry side and not too rich. Once the petals drop, the blossoms transform into little fairy lanterns and the seed pods can be dried for winter decorations indoors.
Sowing: Sow direct in late Winter to Spring or in Autumn
Seeds are best sown in short drills 0.5cm (¼in) deep directly where they are to flower. Sow thinly, once temperatures reach around 18°C (68°F). They prefer a sunny open site but will grow in most sites and soils.
Prepare the ground well and rake to a fine tilth before sowing. Mark the sowing areas with a ring of light coloured sand and label if sowing more than one annual in the same bed. Sow 1mm (1/8”) deep in rows 30cm (12in) apart.
Seeds germinate in approx 21 days. The seedlings will appear in rows approx 6 to 8 weeks after planting and can be told from nearby weed seedlings quite easily. Thin the seedlings out so they are finally 23cm (9in) apart by early summer. Compost should be kept slightly moist, but not wet at all times.
An early autumn sowing can be made in sheltered areas for earlier flowers the following year. Planted it in the autumn it will send down a taproot and form a rosette of feathery leaves during the winter. As temperatures warm up in Spring, flower stalks shoot up. If it's a dry spring, give it water and it will grow large and erect. Without water it tends to flop over.
Prefers well drained soil enriched with manure or compost ahead of planting. Can be grown on light sandy soils.
Feeding is rarely needed but water well and apply complete plant food as growth begins in the spring.
Deadhead to prolong flowering. Leave a few plants to die down and self seed. Others can be pulled up and composted
Cut Flowers: 65 to 70 days to mature, for flowers, and 80 to 85 for pods
For cut flowers, cut the stems in the morning after the dew has dried. Cut when the flowers are fully open because buds will not open after cutting or as the pods are beginning to develop. Harvest seed pods when they are firm to touch.
Cut the stems with a sharp knife about 3cm (1in) from the bottom of a main stem, at an angle of about 45 degrees as this provides a larger exposed area for the uptake of water. Remove all the lower foliage that would be submerged in water.
Fill sterilised a bucket with luke warm water and add warm sugar water. Place the flowers in the bucket and leave over night to condition before using in an arrangement.
To dry the pods, cut while the pods are still green and somewhat fresh. Tie the stems into a bundle and hand upside down to dry. You can cut the seed pods in half to display the interesting seed chamber structure.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens.
Seeds of Nigella damascena have been used over the centuries as an aid in digestion and they are also used in cooking. The seeds taste somewhat spicy, some people note a resemblance to nutmeg, and have been used as a condiment and in confectionery, to flavour wines and snuff, and as an expectorant.
They are far less flavourful than those of Nigella sativa, known as black cumin or fennel flower, which has had a greater culinary and medicinal role than N. damascena.
The related Nigella sativa (and not N. damascena) is the source of the spice variously known as Nigella, Kalonji or Black Cumin.
The genus Nigella is native to North Africa and southern Europe. It is one of about twenty species in the genus, all of them annual herbs from the Mediterranean region. Several are cultivated in gardens, and one, Nigella sativa, is grown for its aromatic seeds.
Nigella papillosa, also know equally as Nigella hispanica is native to Spain.
The genus name is taken from the feminine of Latin nigellus, a derivative of Latin niger meaning black.
The species names of papillosa and hispanica are used interchangeably for this species. Hispanica refers to its origin in Spain and because of this, is commonly called Spanish Love in a Mist. While papillosa is a Latin adjective meaning having papillae, and refers to the presence of unusually long epidermal papillae.
The plant's common name 'Love-in-a-mist' comes from the flower being nestled in a ring of multifid, lacy bracts. It's also called Devil-in-the-Bush. Jack-in-the-green and Lady-in-the-bower. In German, there are comparably poetic names like Jungfer im Grünen (Danish jomfru i det grønne) 'Maiden in the green' or Gretchen im Busch 'Maggie in the bush'.
‘Delft Blue’ is named for the famous Dutch Delft blue pottery.
Delft Blue Pottery:
Delft is the name of the 750-year-old Dutch town that gave its name to the elegant blue-and-white porcelain that made it world-famous. The Dutch East India Company had a healthy trading relationship with China, bringing back a large amount of highly desirable Chinese porcelain to European shores. However, when this trade waned after the death of the Wanli Emperor in 1620, Dutch potters tried to imitate the beautiful, sought-after Chinese porcelain.
This led them to develop a thin type of earthenware which they covered in a white glaze. By applying a second clear glaze, the fired surface and smooth cobalt blues – now known as ‘Delft Blue’ – took on the appearance of porcelain. Although initially the Dutch potters copied oriental decoration inspired by Chinese originals, they also used European patterns that became popular all over the world.
Pottery enthusiasts will love to visit to the 'Royal Delft Pottery', the last remaining earthenware factory still produces painstakingly handcrafted Delftware today. It first opened at in 1653 and today you can visit and see the authentic production processes and learn how the intricate painting is done. It is a detailed art form appreciated by collectors.
When each piece of pottery is painted, the artists use black paint containing cobalt oxide, and later once the ceramics have been fired, the black paint turns to a lovely shade of blue.
Schiffmacher Royal Blue Tattoo:
The combination of Delft Blue pottery and tattoos is perhaps not instantly obvious, but both have more in common than you may imagine. Similarities can be found in origin, meaning, craft and mastery.
Tattoo king Henk Schiffmacher and the master painters of Royal Delft have jointly made a unique collection where the two worlds meet: 'Royal Blue Tattoo'. A temporary exhibition was held in the summer of 2020.
Designed by Henk Schiffmacher and supplemented by items and stories from his extensive collection. 'Schiffmacher Royal Blue Tattoo' is a story about faith, hope and love. Composed of exclusively designed hand painted objects it is a layered, deeply rooted and respectful ode to Delft Blue and the art of tattooing. A unique collaboration between two traditional crafts from an old world, brought across the seas from the east, and rich in culture, tradition and symbolism. Art forms that are applied only once by hand, with needle in the skin or with paintbrush on the baked clay.
Although real tattoos are always an option for the dedicated, there are Delft inspired, beautiful blue temporary tattoos are now available.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 750 Seeds Family Ranunculaceae Genus Nigella Species papillosa Cultivar Delft Blue Common Name Aka Nigella hispanica, Spanish Love in a Mist Other Language Names Aka. Delfts Blauw Hardiness Hardy Annual Flowers Blue Natural Flower Time Early to Mid Summer Foliage A unique mist of airy bracts and foliage. Height 90cm (36in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Prefers a warm sunny spot Aspect West or South facing. Exposed or Sheltered Season Matures in 12 to 16 weeks.