Coming from the coastal regions of North and South America, Europe, Turkey and North Africa, these plants are very much at home in the salt-laden air of our northwestern coastal gardens. Perennials, some of them being classified as subshrubs (Armeria atrosanguinea, for example, with its lance-shaped, mid-green leaves and white or pale-pink flowers borne on stems up to 50 centimetres in height), they are all most suitable for a garden which receives little, if any, rain during the summer months. Probably the most common form is Armeria maritima (sea-thrift), a perennial with dark-green leaves and white, pale-pink or red-purple flowers; although perhaps slow to pick up at first once transplanted, it soon forms most pleasing tightly woven clumps. A. ‘Bee’s Ruby’ is another deep-pink variety, equally sturdy and happy in the sea air of any coastal region – although all varieties will do equally well in inland gardens. As the flowers last for several weeks, sometimes months, they are useful and charming additions to any rock garden, but they really look their best when surrounded by gravel mulch, thus “imitating,” if you will, their natural landscaping. Personally, I prefer to see them dotted about in groups, fairly close together, rather than lined up along a pathway, used as an edging – but then, I am not fond of any plants spread out in lines. But, and this is a big “but,” if you wish to have success with your water-wise garden, make absolutely sure that your ground is properly prepared. Once the soil has been dug over, cover it with landscape cloth and then top it all off with a 15-centimetre layer of crushed rock or gravel. This will ensure that any moisture the ground receives will not easily evaporate and your plants will always have their roots in a cool, damp-ish environment – and nothing could be better for them.