Do you grow acanthus? My first was Acanthus mollis, the plant whose stylized leaves adorn many a cement urn as well as the tops of Corinthian columns. I love those big leaves, and the tall flower spikes. Here's a dark and moody Bloomday photo from my garden back in 2015.
My next acanthus crush was Acanthus sennii, a spiky acanthus—why not!
Unfortunately it's blooms never amounted to much in my garden, so I can't show you a photo of them (go here if you're curious). Interestingly they're red, not the characteristic purple of A. mollis and the subject of this post, A. syriacus. As you might imagine it really was all about the foliage for me though, so I never minded not getting the red flowers.
Acanthus syriacus, though... that's what we're here to talk about today and I adore it's flowers, and they're quite spiky! My first opportunity to purchase an Acanthus syriacus took place during the Portland Garden Blogger's Fling in 2014, during our visit to Joy Creek Nursery. I saw one for sale and snatched it up—I was on the lookout after seeing photos of it on both Panayoti Kelaidis' blog Prairiebreak and and Bob Nold's blog the miserable gardener. It took a couple of years but I got my first flower on that plant in June of 2017.
Turns out that was also my last flower as the plant became shaded out by the huge Ceanothus 'Dark Star' growing above. It reliably came up every year (what a trooper!), but never amounted to much. Here it is emerging this year...as you can see it's multiplied a bit.
Shortly after admiring that emerging foliage I happened to look at the Xera Plants availability and what do you know!? They had Acanthus syriacus listed so I managed to score two more plants! Orange arrows identify the old, and the new.
I am thrilled to add a couple more of this plant to my garden and hope that with the removal of the overbearing ceanothus both the old and the new will thrive...
Because while I do love that foliage, I'd love to see some of those flowers.
What's your acanthus experience? (if any)
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