Linaria purpurea

Linaria purpurea
Pink form of Linaria purpurea

This is a slender perennial plant, sometimes known as purple toadflax, which comes from Southern Europe. It belongs to the Plantaginaceae family. It has stems covered with fine, blue-grey linear leaves and its dainty flowers are held in slim spires (ht 70 - 90 cm) and resemble tiny snapdragons. I originally grew some specimens from seed labelled as 'Canon J Went', a desirable soft pink cultivar, but over the years, those plants self-seeded throughout my garden and now I have them coming up in colours of purple, pink and white. All are lovely.

Linaria purpurea

The plant seems to like a dryish soil in full sun. I have some that have literally grown on the top of brick walls and flowered cheerfully. I find they last for a few years then get a bit woody. But by then they have spawned a hundred or so seedlings so it is no loss to pull the mother plant out. It is quite easy to transplant the seedlings when they are young. This species does not run like some other forms of Linaria.

White Linaria purpurea in the garden of Belinda and Richard Pegg, Sydney

The flowers begin in late spring and continue all through summer and even into autumn. The plants provide a softening haze in my perennial borders and take up little space. I trim off the spent flower spires occasionally through the season to promote more flowers. This is one of the English-y cottage plants which I would never want to be without.

Flowers in January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December.