Bringing a touch of Europe to your garden

By Cindi Sullivan - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A popular European plant is so beautiful architects have used it for inspiration. WAVE 3 garden expert Cindi Sullivan tells you how you can grow it right in your own backyard.

Ok, if you can bear with me for one more vacation story, wherever Steve and I went in Europe, we saw this plant. So I just had to have one when I got home, it's called Acanthus.

Also known as Bear's breeches, acanthus are very ornamental herbaceous perennials with large shiny dark green leaves. The plant grows in a clump about 5' tall, with slightly less spread.

The leaves can be up to 3 feet long, with deep cuts, although there's quite a bit of variation among individual leaves. Each lobe is tipped with a soft - not sharp - spine. In late summer, bear's breeches blooms with creamy white to slightly pink or purplish flowers on dramatically tall, erect stalks held way above the foliage.

Bear's breeches perform best in loose, average to rich soil. It tolerates moderately dry conditions once established and they will grow in either full sun or partial shade, and they will not tolerate constantly wet soil.

Grow this perennial in well drained, but moist soil.

Acanthus leaves might look familiar to you because they are used in ornamentation of classical architecture and design. The only caveat with this plant is that it might be marginally hardy here in Kentuckiana. But if you have a warm microclimate and the perfect spot for it, it may last for years in your garden.

If you have a gardening question for Cindi, you can e-mail her by clicking on the link above. You can also find many helpful garden tips from Cindi by clicking on the highlighted link: Garden Talk.