I might have to start painting again. I need exactly that sort of excuse to spend hours studying this plant’s tiny knob of pin cushion flowers and the delicate veining of its bracts. I want to commit them to memory — not just because most years the plant, flowers and all, gets eaten to nubs by bunnies or the woodchuck, but because they’re so exquisite. I’m lucky this year. Not only did my one lonely plant not get eaten but it also didn’t get completely overtaken by everything planted right up next to it. (Actually, I might give credit to a neighboring self-sown teasel for fending off the critters and have left it standing guard.) The astrantia even seems to be growing and if I’m really lucky it will be big enough to divide in a year or two.
The credit for its survival against-all-odds and happiness, if it really is as happy as it looks, has to go to true partial shade (morning sun) and fairly consistently moist soil — it benefits from soaker-hose drippings from one of my rain barrels (and we have gotten a ton of rain lately). I understand astrantia don’t love hot nights and we have been cool as cucumbers so far, which might also account for its extra exuberant display. Whatever works.
The only thing I don’t love about this plant is its common name: masterwort. blech.