A virtual carpet of lovely pink blooms covered the shingle at the road-side base of the the Chesil Bank near Ferry Bridge a week or so ago. This was made up of hundreds of low tufts of Thrift or Sea Pink – Armeria maritima (Mill.) Willd. A beautiful sight.
Thrift is quite a common plant that also grows on rocky cliffs and salt marshes. It flowers in early summer and when the blooms fade papery seed heads remain for some months. The short grass-like leaves can stay green almost throughout the year.
Another fairly common flowering plant of the British coastline is Sea Campion –Silene maritima (With.) A & D Love. This grows on shingle beaches and sometimes on cliff ledges where it produces massed white blossoms in summer. Although the shoots die back in the winter, the woody roots survive for several years and help to stabilise the shingle.
The picture below shows a tuft of Sea Campion growing in typical form on shingle a short distance from Ferry Bridge, Dorset.