Happy amongst the spikes and the bees

The flowers of Eryngium, Achillea and Sedum have a magnetic effect on butterflies and bees. “When we’re harvesting the flowers there’s buzzing all around us,” says Adrie Klaasse Bos. Together with her mother Nenne Bos-de Vries she runs the summer flower nursery Maatschap Bos–De Vries. “I tagged along with her from when I was very young.”

Mad about sea holly

Eryngium is the most important crop at the nursery, which is situated in the Haarlemmermeerpolder. “My mother started with the alpine sea holly: Eryngium alpinum”, says Adrie. “And we’ve added all sorts of varieties since then. Sea holly really has stolen our hearts. Just look at those amazing shades of blue. We’re not bothered by the spikes: we wear long sleeves and gloves to protect ourselves. And it’s the spikiness that gives sea holly such a strong look.”

Summer work

The harvesting season starts in mid-June with the alpine sea holly. Achillea and Sedum follow. “You can harvest Sedum’s flowers at various stages. We start in the summer harvesting the raw, fresh green flowers (with closed buds). But they’re also fantastic when the colour progresses to pink and on to dark red. They’re a real autumn flower than.”

Late summer and autumn sea holly

Meanwhile they also harvest Eryngium pandanifolium ‘Physic Purple’, which is something of an oddity at the nursery. This deep purple Eryngium with its tall branched stems only starts flowering in August and continues well into the autumn. “The plants can reach a height of 2.5 metres,” explains Adrie. She enjoys breeding and propagating Erygniums (from rhizomes). “That’s always a challenge. It’s not that hard to find a beautiful Erygnium, but finding one that’s also easy to propagate is more tricky.”

Read more about Eryngium here.

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