Astrantia major Gill Richardson Group
Hatties Pincushion, Masterwort. Astrantia major Gill Richardson are a beautiful crimson Astrantia with very dark tips to the flower bracts surrounding the central pincushion of cherry-red flowers. The flower stems and young leaves are also flushed with a burgundy glow. A vigorous variety which produces nice large flowers. However, flower size in Astrantia is closely linked to nutrition, so feed well and divide from time to time. What’s in a name… Gill Richardson gardened in Lincolnshire. She had been an avid collector and grower of a wide range of Astrantias for a long time. She first fell in love with Ruby Wedding at an RHS Show at Vincent Square in London. In the 1990’s she gave seeds to John Metcalf, a Norfolk nurseryman. He selected the best dark form from the resulting seedlings. He named it in honour of Gill and it was launched at Chelsea in 2004.
‘Astrantias have a quaint beauty of their own’ – William Robinson.
Masterwort, Mountain Sanicle
This i one of two Genera, (along with Eryngium), that you may be surprised to find classified in the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), along with carrots, fennel and cow parsley. However if you realise that each flower is in fact a flower head and then explode that out, the similarities soon become clear. They produce flowers over a very extended season, from Spring into Summer and dry very well.
Astrantia are natives of alpine meadows and light woodland and prefer a moisture retentive soil. Having said that, they are the most obliging of plants and will grow in a wide variety of sites. They tolerate sun to shade, moist to fairly dry. In a light woodland situation they will seed moderately freely, producing a drift of plants in a delightful range of flower shades. The wild plant is not common and not native to Britain, but has naturalised in one or two grassy areas. They produce dense spreading crowns and make excellent ground cover.
Most plants encountered will be forms of Astrantia major. However, we also offer the lovely and more spreading Astrantia maxima with its larger heads of sugary pink with flatter, broader bracts. Hybrids are rare, but Nori and Sandra Pope crossed Astrantia major and Astrantia maxima at Hadspen Garden in Somerset to produce the lovely Astrantia ‘Hadspen Blood’.
There may be two (or three) derivations for the name Astrantia, either from the Latin ‘Aster’ – a star, in allusion to the starry flowers, or from the Greek ‘astron’ – a star, and ‘anti’ – like, or alternatively as a corruption of ‘Magisterantia’ – masterwort, a name given to it believing it to be bit of a cure-all.
Masterwort can also refer to the plant Imperatoria ostruthium