Hardy, herbaceous perennial
Description: Spherical, metallic-blue flower heads in late summer; stiff, spiny, dark green leaves have downy undersides
Habit: Compact, clump-forming plants 2-4 feet high and 2-3 feet wide
Culture: Grows easily in any well-drained soil with full sun; tolerates dry conditions once established
Hardiness: Cold hardy to USDA Zone 3
Origin: Europe, Asia
Attributes: Attracts butterflies and bees, Cut flower, Rabbit resistant, Drought tolerant
Globe Thistle, a Mediterranean plant long in cultivation throughout Europe, is an undemanding perennial suitable for the border or the wild garden. Williamsburg's John Custis might have received this species, or its more vigorous cousin, E. sphaerocephalus, from his English patron Peter Collinson in 1738. Both are listed in Parkinson's early 17th-century herbal, and Philip Millers 18th-century botanical dictionary. Thomas Jefferson's gardening mentor, Bernard McMahon, also included Small Globe Thistle in his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar. Today it is popular as a cut flower and for drying, and the flowers attract butterflies.