We are all familiar with the tufted cushions that cling to the cliff tops from our holidays at the sea side and from seeing them on the small screen hunkered down beside a Puffin burrow. They number a 100 or so species mostly from the Mediterranean, although Armeria maritima makes its home along the coasts of the northern hemisphere, including the length and breadth of Britain.
They must be amongst the most undemanding of evergreen perennials thriving in any soil, from impoverished sand to clay provided it is well drained.
New breeding of Sea thrifts has produced plants with longer stems, larger more robust flowers and a wide range of colours from white to carmine pink, even red. Some forms even have beetroot coloured leaves. They make great ground cover for sunny spots, the taller forms of Armeria maritima and Armeria pseudarmeria can be used at the front of the border, on the rockery and in paving. Armeria maritima makes excellent ground cover amongst paving even tolerating the occasional treading of gardeners and animals. Small species like Armeria juniperifolia are easy plants for the trough, rockery, scree or even dry stone walls
The pom-pom flowers appear from late spring and can continue sporadically all summer. Dead-heading encourages further blooming but the flowers are good for cutting and dry well, either cut or in-situ.
‘Armeria’ is derived from the latinised version of the French Armoires, a name for the Sweet William Dianthus. Common names include Sea Thrift, Sea Pink and Lady’s Cushion.
A.pseudarmeria can grow up to 60cm high but the ‘Ballerina’ series have been bred to be more compact & prolific flowering with much stronger colours.
Armeria juniperifolia (Armeria caespitosa)
Dense evergreen cushions of needle-like leaves with short stems of pink globular flowers in spring & early summer. Common Name: juniper-leaved thrift
Position: Light, well-drained soil in full sun.
Use: Alpine troughs, scree beds, rock garden or edges of borders.