Thrift or Sea Pink, Rock Rose, Our Lady’s Pillow – Armeria maritima, begins flowering in April and carries on gloriously well into July. It is a low growing perennial plant that forms dense neat tussocks of linear leaves and produces generous numbers of fragrant button-shaped flowers. The plant has very shallow roots and takes its common name of ‘thrift’ from its ability to make the most of any available nutrients in the thinnest of soils of cliffs and rocks.
Thrift creates wonderful displays on wild, coastal areas throughout the UK – especially south-west Wales and Scotland, but as well as rocky cliffs, Thrift can also be commonly found brightening up saltmarshes and other sandy areas.
The Welsh name for thrift is clustog Fair, which translates as Mary’s pillow. In Gaelic it is known as tonna chladaich, meaning ‘beach wave’. It is the county flower of Bute, the Isles of Scilly and Pembrokeshire/Sir Benfro.
Thrift was used as an emblem on the threepenny-bit between 1937 and 1953 – no doubt as a clever and light-hearted pun at a time in our British history when saving, making and mending and general ‘thrift’ were a part of everyday life.