Thrift pays off

IN THE PINK: Thrift is a go-anywhere, do-anything kind of plant.

IN THE PINK: Thrift is a go-anywhere, do-anything kind of plant.

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Define thrift: ‘The quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.’

That sounds pretty boring. So, define thrift, the plant. ‘Any of several densely tufted plants of the genus Armeria, especially A maritima, having white to pink flower heads with a funnel-shaped scarious calyx.’

That sounds just as boring. And yet the plant is anything but. It’s a hardy, pretty and very floriferous little thing, an evergreen perennial forming tufts or mats of strap-shaped or linear leaves, with long-stalked, dense clusters of small cup-shaped flowers. Preferably pink.

And to make things even better, it’s also usually quite capable – and happy – of looking after itself and providing many weeks of colourful interest.

Basically, A maritima is a grow-anywhere plant capable of standing up to some of the meanest weather that Britain – and the rest of the world – can throw at it. So this is a tough little thing.

It prefers a well-drained soil, but Thrift isn’t particularly choosy. But it does best in a well-drained soil where it isn’t crowded by bigger, heftier plants. Which is why A maritimea has become a popular choice for rock gardens and containers.

It has become a must for drought-resistant flower borders and beds and, in particular, for coastal gardens where it laughs off the threat of salt-laden air and sea-borne winds.

It doesn’t seem to suffer from pests and diseases and it rarely need trimming to shape, although removing dead and dying foliage is recommended.

Sow seeds outdoors in the early autumn or spring, covering the seed. Indoors, soak seeds overnight in warm water to help with germination.

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