Considering that I am rather an obsessive controlling kind of gardener, I am very relaxed about cornflowers. It is, I guess a special relationship. Whereas I am a ruthless pruner of over-reaching shrubs and an even crueler remover of plants that decide to grown in the “wrong” place, with cornflowers I’m a bit of a softie.
I just scatter their seeds every year and let them flower wherever the mood takes them. There is something about these radiantly blue flowers that surprizes me every summer. They are beautiful of course but, more than that, they fill me with optimism by the way they can brighten up even the gloomiest and least expected of spaces. They know just how to make me happy.
So welcome back Centaurea cyanus, to use your dressed-up name. The simple cornflower, so called because it used to grow on the fringes of cornfields in the days before chemical weedkillers. They were a pastoral joy like that other delightful cornfield wild flower, the poppy. Both are indulged residents in my garden. Cornflowers were known in English folklore as Batchelor’s Buttons, symbolising romantic love and worn on an ardent lover’s lapel. Woe be it for him, people said, if it faded too soon.
I think I shall leave mine where they are – out there brightening up my tatty old brick wall.