To take a walk along the coastline in the late spring and early summer months is a very pleasurable thing to do, but it is made even more spectacular by the pink coloured flowers that occupy every nook and crevice along cliffs and rocky beaches, this plant is ‘thrift’ also known as the ‘sea pink’.

Thrift is a wild plant native to the Northern Hemisphere; it is especially wide spread on the west coast of the United Kingdom in areas such as Cornwall, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales, the west coast and islands of Scotland and Ireland as well as being found around the Mediterranean. Thrift grows best in full sun, it favours rocky cliffs but can also be commonly found in salt marshes and other sandy areas where there is good drainage for its roots, adding a splash of colour wherever it grows. Thrift flowers from April to July and is often thought of as one of the indicators that the season is turning and that summer is on the way after the colder winter months.

The name ‘thrift’ is thought to refer to the leaves of the plant, which are tightly packed together to conserve water in the arid, salty air where it grows, it is being ‘thrifty’ with its supply. For the rest of the year when it isn’t in flower, thrift can be recognised by the green grassy mounds of leaves which stand around 2 to 5 inches high nestled into cracks in the rocks.

Aside from growing well in the wild, thrift is now a popular plant with gardeners, especially as a rockery plant. It needs the same conditions as in the wild which are mainly good drainage and a position in the full sun, it doesn’t mind a windy or exposed position however so is great for gardens where other plants may be a little too delicate. In the wild, the flower heads range from pale to bright pink (hence its other name of sea pink) and they stand approximately 6 inches up from the leaves on tough stalks, but in a garden situation they may grow larger and taller with a deeper colour depending on the conditions, sometimes to a reddish purple shade which is quite stunning.

Thrift is many people’s favourite wild flower, it has a relatively long season and there is nothing to compare it too really for brightening up the sometimes grey, cold feel of cliffs. Its dancing, bobbing flower heads that move with the breeze give a sense of summer and good days ahead.