Tough little perennial Penny Woodward

Thrift (Armeria maritima) was one of the plants that I grew in my first garden and I have loved it ever since. It is a delightful tough little perennial that grows, in spring and summer, as a small clump of tufting, grassy leaves with white, pink or red button flowers on slender stems. Their ideal home is rocky, well-drained ground near the coast (perfect for Somers gardens). They grow beautifully in cold and warm temperate regions but are not much good in the sub-tropics and certainly won’t survive in the tropics. They also show no signs of self-seeding so won’t grow into the coastal foreshore or other bush areas.

Because thrift are somewhat retiring plants, it’s good to grow several clumps as a low border along a garden bed or path, with 20cm in between, pop into pockets of soil in a rockery, or grow in small pots or window boxes. New plants grown from seed, which have been soaked in water overnight, or by dividing an existing plant, should be planted in autumn.

Also known as Ladies’ Cushion and Sea Pink, thrift is a native to England and was grown in in Tudor times, especially in knot gardens and as edging for other plants. In the language of flowers thrift means sympathy, and their flowers attract bees, butterflies and other insects.

It’s not too late to plant now but make sure you give thrift enough water to get established before the summer heat really takes over.

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