Ballerinas & Angels

It is hard to beat achillea, commonly called yarrow, in a hot dry garden site.

Achillea ptarmica

Photo: Mike Pennington (geograph)

Achillea ptarmica (also known as sneezewort) with a visitor.

This plant is tough, does well in almost any soil and really is drought resistant. The flowers are pretty, fresh or dried, and if the plant is dead-headed, achillea blooms from summer into fall. It is also deer resistant.

The well known achillea ’Coronation Gold’ is 24 – 36 inches tall with golden flowers produced on upward facing flower heads and has grey green foliage. ’Moonshine’ is a paler yellow. ‘Red velvet’ is vibrant, and there is a terra cotta ‘Paprika’, and ‘Heidi’ is pastel pink.

Hybridizers have given us many colors of yarrow. The one I like the best, however, is ‘Ballerina’, which is not immediately identifiable as yarrow, as it does not have the characteristic flat umbel made up of many little flower heads. Its flowers are like slightly larger flowers of baby’s breath, and the plant is only 12 inches tall. There is a taller variety aptly named ‘Angel’s breath’, which grows to 24 inches. Achillea ‘Ballerina’ and Angel’s Breath’ have all of the enviable qualities of their fellow yarrows, but a style and sweetness all of their own.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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