Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Armeria maritima

Armeria maritima in Seattle May 2010

Armeria maritima on Rousay May 1999

Armeria maritima on Mainland Orkney May 1999

Armeria maritima on Mainland Orkney May 1999

 Armeria maritima in Seattle May 2010

I had Armeria maritima (Thrift) growing in my garden in Seattle when I went to Orkney & saw it there.  I saw it on the island of Rousay, strewn with stray bits of seaweed, growing in cracks in the rocks near the high tide line.  A few days later I saw it on the cliffs above the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean at Marwick Head Nature Reserve on Mainland.  Seabirds nested there among the tussocks of thrift.   A few years later I saw it again in Washington Park in Anacortes, on cliffs above the Salish Sea on Fidalgo Island.  I knew it only to be a European plant.  I learned that Armeria maritima is circumboreal, growing near the sea across the northern latitudes.  (According to Stearn maritima means, 'pertaining to the sea; coastal.')  After a while, I removed the last bits of thrift from my garden.  Then I happened to see Armeria maritima on the Greenwalks blog.  I missed the little plant with bright pink flowers.  I had a place for it down by the sidewalk, an environment as challenging as the edge of the sea.  Armeria maritima doesn't require much water.  It's very tough.  It slowly spreads to form a turf-like, tussocky mass.  The only downside is a profusion of dead flower heads in summer.  I cut them off with scissors.


Karen said...

Oh, I am glad to hear that inspiration ran the other way for a change. :) Thanks for the world tour of thrift-growing spots! I have always wanted to visit the Orkney Islands, plants that grow there have probably got to be pretty tough! I like that word, circumboreal. Great post!

Susan in the Pink Hat said...

This plant has been on my want list for a while. Thanks for showing us it's natural habitat. So stunning, those sea cliffs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jordan~~ I'm visiting at the recommendation of Karen@Greenwalks--one of my favorite bloggers and a fellow northwester, like yourself.

Thank you for convincing me. I've always killed Armeria, succumbing to the need to buy the newest cultivars and growing them in containers so I can enjoy an up close and personal. I think I must over water the poor babies because they rarely last over a year. After reading your post, I'm going to move mine to my arid rock garden and see what happens.

MulchMaid said...

Nice survey of your sightings! My English mother was always fond of thrift. It sounds like the perfect plant for my sidewalk garden where I have too many inherited roses and I'm gradually filling in with herbs and other plants that will give some winter interest. And I think thrift would help outcompete weeds with its tight coverage.