Small Scabious (Scabiosa Columbaria)
A garden that contains a wide variety of plants and wildflowers will attract a wider variety of birds, bees and butterflies – all creatures that we like to see in our gardens and that need our help to survive in times when their other natural habitats are in decline. As hedgerows and woodlands are being cut down to make room for building and farming, it is important that pollinating insects in particular are given opportunity to continue to thrive.
Meadowmat rolls of pre-planted matting feature a wide range of different wildflowers to enhance the beauty of any garden, and are very helpful for quickly and easily setting up a natural space that attracts insects. These plants flower at different times throughout the year to maximise the number and variety of pollinating insects that will visit, as different species of butterfly, for example, hatch, take flight and produce eggs and larvae throughout the spring and summer.
Late summer bloomer
One variety of wildflower that will bloom in late summer (July to September) is the small scabious (scabiosa columbaria). This blue wild flower is a native species in Britain and can flower for even longer (from June to October) if the conditions are right. It likes lots of sunlight and well-drained soil, and it loves wildlife borders.
It is commonly known as the ‘butterfly blue’, quite appropriately since it is highly attractive to butterflies such as peacocks and tortoiseshells. It is featured as one of the herbaceous perennial plants on the RHS perfect for pollinators list, cementing its reputation as an excellent choice for a wildflower garden.
It has a large, round, pale blue head that, when it’s going to seed, looking not unlike the shape of a thistle. When in full flower, though, the petals are clustered tightly in the centre and relax towards the edge of the circular head; each has five petal-lobes that are easier to see towards the outermost edge and distinguish this variety from the similar field scabious.
The small scabious can grow quite tall, to around 70cm, with a slender stem that, compared to the field scabious, has few hairs.
Historical uses of small scabious
Folklore is behind the name, since this flower (like its relative, the field scabious) was believed to cure skin complaints including dandruff, wounds and scabies. But it has always been grown in British gardens because of its pretty colour, and its lack of associated pests make it easy to grow and maintain.