Some garden flowers have a timeless aura and the scabious, or pincushion flowers, are a case in point. The disc-like heads, clustered with long-lasting flowers, ooze period charm as delightful as any old-fashioned rose, with which they make ideal partners along with other cottage and country garden plantings.
Scabious come from Europe, Africa and Asia and are a mix of annuals and perennials, with some, such as the Mediterranean Scabiosa atropurpurea, being biennial or a short-lived perennial. The name scabious comes from the plant's use as a folk medicine to treat scabies, cause by burrowing mites.
The flowers of most varieties are shades of blue, lilac, pale yellow and creamy-white, but get maroon and darker tones from S. atropurpurea. Like daisies, the flowers are made up of two different types of petal, with smaller inner and larger outer. The female stigmas often stick out of the individual flowers, giving rise to the name pinchushion flower. Producing copious amounts of nectar, their easily accessible blooms make them attractive to pollinators. The flowers are long-lasting and make excellent cut blooms in formal or informal arrangements. After the petals have fallen, the calyx of many species remain - creating a whiskery bobble - and these are also good for arrangements.
Scabiosa like well-drained, but not constantly dry soil, in full sun, thriving particularly well in chalky soils.