Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alyssum, Sweet Alice

White Alyssum growing around Iris x germanica, Nutmeg Geranium (Pelargonium fragrans) and the succulent x Graptoveria 'Huth's Pink'.
Botanists call Alyssum maritimum, Lobularia maritima so it often appears under both names in garden books,. With the species name alluding to a coastal origin, it is in fact native to the coastal areas of southern Portugal where it goes by the common name of Escudinha.The English name of Sweet Alice refers to its sweetly perfumed flowers and is a play on words of its botanical name.Though usually regarded as an annual, the white flowering forms becomes more like a perennial ,flowering for most of the year or self seeding and returning after a short break. I like to plant it in coastal gardens with sandy soils as it is reliable in filling in the gaps between shrubs and perennials or succulents. The coloured flower varieties, which include the pink 'Rosie O'Day', deep purple, 'Violet Queen' and the marine blue 'Royal Carpet' are less hardy as perennials and usually peak in flower during late winter and spring and die off over summer. They are particularly useful in growing with spring flowering bulbs and form a soft carpet around the base of the plants and compliment the taller flowers.


  1. Ooooh, never heard common name before. I like it!

  2. They are among the few annuals that re-seed for me here in Alaska. The fragrance is wonderful!