A is for achillea, a wonderful perennial that has an ancient history. It is named after Achilles, the legendary Greek hero. He was the son of the sea goddess Thetis and the mortal king Peleus. Thetis, wanting to make her baby invulnerable dipped him into the River Styx. She had to hold him my his heels which never became wet leaving that spot vulnerable. Hence comes our saying that someone might have a weakness, an ‘Achilles heel.’
The fine and feathery Achillea foliage has culinary and medicinal uses. In fact, it was sometimes referred to as an herbal militaris because it was used on battlefields to staunch bloody wounds. Another look back and to the warrior Achilles.
Achillea, also known as yarrow, is not a fussy perennial. It requires only ordinary well drained garden soil and is tolerant of drought. Deer don’t like it either. You will find wild yarrow with its white flowers growing along roadsides, but in the garden it has a large range of colors as indicated by the Bluestone Perennials catalog.
I have grown the familiar form of achillea varieties, ‘Moonshine’ a soft yellow, ‘Coronation Gold’ a strong golden color and one of the most excellent for drying, ‘Paprika’ a slightly orange shade of red, and ‘Terra Cotta’ with shades of gold and umber.
I have also grown Achillea ‘The Pearl’ which has similar foliage, but the white flower form is different. While all the achilleas will increase nicely, allowing you to divide them up every 3 years or so, ‘The Pearl’ is much more aggressive. While not an invasive plant, I will not include it again in my garden. But I will always have at least one Achillea in my new, smaller garden.
When the season is over and it is time to cut back your perennials be sure to put the achillea into the compost pile. Achillea/yarrow is known as a compost accelerator, speeding up the decomposition process.
Achillea is my first post in the A-Z Challenge. Will I be able to post every day in April?