Patrinia scabiosifolia has continued to languish in relative obscurity until very recently, but its fortunes appear to be changing. It has all the requisite fashionable qualities, airy see-through grace, a strong branching structure, plus sheets of sparkling chrome-yellow flowers produced over a long late season starting in late July and continuing into October. Very few people would ever guess the identity of this plant, yet it is a gem that ought to be much more widely grown.
Patrinia scabiosifolia resembles a cross between a golden achillea and the immensely popular see-through plant, Verbena bonariensis. Its branched flat-topped clusters are raised high into the air on fine green stems. It works well in close association with other plants where it gives the appearance of levitating above the garden. In fact, it is precisely this lack of substance that endears it to gardeners who like plants that mingle well with others.
The plants grow to around 100 to 120cm (36 to 48in) in height by 30cm (12in) wide, and although tall, its diaphanous form means it can be planted at the front of a border. It works well as a ‘filler’ flower, dotted throughout the garden, but you'll want to have at least the occasional clump closer to the front so that it's easy to appreciate the flowers' unique show in all its detail.
This long-lived hardy perennial is reasonably undemanding and is at its best when planted in a position with plenty of sunlight and good drainage. Its sturdy, leafy stems rarely require any sort of support, especially in full sun. The tall stems are excellent for cutting and last well indoors and the flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees.
Sowing: Sow seed in cool weather in autumn or early spring.
Sow seeds very finely onto the surface of pots containing moist seed compost. 'Just cover' with a sprinkling of sieved soil (1/16th in) and maintain an optimum temperature of 10°C (50°F)
Keep moist, watering from the base of the container but do not saturate the compost. Germination is usually around 14 to 50 days, but may take a little longer.
Remove the cover once the seedlings begin to germinate to allow air to circulate, otherwise they may suffer from damping off disease. Keep in light but not strong sunlight, a warm kitchen windowsill is often sufficient.
Thin (prick out) seeds as they become large enough to handle, leaving the seed trays intact for other seedlings that may germinate later. Use 7cm (3in) pots containing well-drained compost mix. You can add 10% horticultural sand (that doesn’t contain salt) to a regular compost to achieve this.
Harden off young plants gradually for 10 to 15 days before planting out. In poor soil it is worth incorporating some organic matter before planting.
Water deeply to encourage roots to grow deeply, resulting in a healthier, more drought tolerant plant. Avoid overhead watering if possible.
Grow in a position with any decent well-drained garden soil. The plants are tolerant of dry conditions but will grow faster and taller in richer soil with good watering,
Remove spent flower clusters to encourage additional bloom. Where happy the plants may gently self-seed otherwise seed heads can be collected to provide more plants the following year.
The plants are long lived and should not need frequent division but if needed, congested plants can be divided at any time over the winter, up until growth starts in earnest in April.
Beds and borders, Cottage/Informal, Garden edging, Wildlife, Bee and Butterfly gardens. Gravel garden, Low-maintenance.
Patrinia scabiosifolia is a perennial herb that grows in sunny fields and mountainous areas extending from Japan to Korea, China, and Eastern Siberia. It is a member of the valerian family, Valerianaceae.
In Japan it is known as Ominaeshi, or Omina-Eshi and sometimes as ‘maiden flower,’ the tall stems fan out symmetrically at the top, bearing tiny five-petalled flowers that resemble miniature parasols. In classic Japanese literature, the flower’s gentle appearance has romantic overtones and was likened to a beautiful woman. It also has long had a place in Japanese art and poetry as one of ‘the seven grasses (flowers) of autumn.’
Patrinia scabiosifolia has been grown in England as far back as the 1820s. It was first discovered early in the 19th century growing on the grassy steppes of Dahuria, in Eastern Siberia. Seed received at Colvill's famous nursery in 1823 was duly cultivated and admired. One of its first appearances in print was in Robert Sweet's 'British Flower Garden' (1826), a compendium of recent plant introductions. He includes a botanical description in Latin and English and brief instructions for its cultivation, but very little qualitative judgement; he calls it ‘very pretty’ and suggests its use in the rock garden, but being rather too tall, this is something of a misfit. It is a meadow plant and as such works well in close association with other plants, not isolated among lumps of rock.
Patrinia scabiosifolia has continued to languish in relative obscurity until very recently. There are a handful of passing references in the literature of the 19th and 20th centuries, and it appears to have even passed Gertrude Jekyll by, but its fortunes appear to be changing. Christopher Lloyd's influential garden at Great Dixter has harboured clumps of this magnificent perennial for 10 years or more, since when it has often found its way on to the pages of his books.
The genus name Patrinia is named for Eugene L.M. Patrin, an 18th century French mineralogist
The species name scabiosifolia, also found spelt scabiosaefolia means ‘with leaves like the scabiosa’. The leaves do look much like those of a scabiosa plant, as the epithet indicates.
Pronounced pah-TRIN-ee-ah skab-ee-oh-sih-FOE-lee-ah, in Europe and the US it does not have a common name but is generally known simply as Patrinia, although this genus does cover a number of very different looking plants. The name ‘Golden Lace’ is used commercially and in Japan
Patrinia scabiosifolia was reportedly first discovered early in the 19th century growing on the grassy steppes of Dahuria, in Eastern Siberia, because of this it is occasionally known as Dahurian Patrinia.
Patrinia scabiosifolia, known in Japan as Ominaeshi reaches a height of about 100 to 120cm (36 to 48in). Yellow five-petalled flowers bloom like an open umbrella in a cluster. Omina means 'woman, female' and the word is used because the flowers look soft, gentle, womanly: and 'eshi' is the abbreviation of meshi, or 'millet', which the flowers resemble.
Patrinia villosa, known in Japan as Otokoeshi resemble Patrinia scabiosifolia but the leaves and stalks are larger and thicker, growing as tall as 120 to 150cm (48 to 60in). The flowers are similar but are white. Otoko means 'man, masculine', and the name applies because the flowers look hard, strong, manly in comparison with its relative.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Family Valerianaceae Genus Patrinia Species scabiosifolia Synonym Patrinia scabiosaefolia Common Name Ominaeshi, Maiden Flower Other Common Names Omina-Eshi Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Chrome-yellow flat-topped clusters Natural Flower Time Late July and continuing into October Height 100 to 120cm (36 to 48in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun for best flowering Soil Any reasonable moist, free draining garden soil. Time to Sow Sow in autumn or early spring.