Cottage Garden Plants: Pink love-in-a-mist

Various shades of pink love-in-a-mist flowers

Pink seed strains of Nigella damascena seem to be increasingly fashionable at recent British flower shows. It’s a quirky flower, by any standards. Layered petals wheel around a crazy eye above lacy bracts.

The complex, decorative flower form has inspired many folk names. I use love-in-a-mist, but you may know it as love-in-a-tangle, love-in-a-puzzle, kiss-me-twice-before-I-rise, Jack in the green or lady in the bower.

Love-in-a-mist seed strains to look out for include:
Nigella damascena ‘Persian Rose’ – soft vintage pink shades.
Nigella damascena ‘Persian Jewels’ – mixed pink, mauve, blue and white flowers.
Nigella damascena ‘Mulberry Rose’ – mid pink with hints of purple
Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’ – award-winning blue.
Nigella papillosa ‘Delft Blue’ – white flowers, heavily mottled blue; purple pods.

My favourite pink is Nigella damascena ‘Persian Rose’. The buds open a creamy-green colour and gradually pinken. (I would say like the cheeks of my sweetheart when he realises he’s said something he ought not to have, except he doesn’t start out green and the process is rapid.) The colour is described antique or vintage, which I interpret as softish pink with a touch of grey.

Love-in-a-mist is a classic choice for cottage gardens and cutting gardens; the RHS also recommends them for coastal gardens. Fine, feathery foliage makes it a beautiful filler for a cottage garden style bouquet and it has much the same effect in the garden. Nigella’s decorative seed pods are also prized by floral designers. The picture below shows blue Nigella damascena in a flower meadow, the foliage reflecting the sunlight.

Ferny foliage of love-in-a-mist catches the light

Love-in-a-mist is an annual, which means that the plant completes its life-cycle from seed within a year, fading away after it flowers and sets seed. It needs a sunny spot. You can extend the season of colour by sowing sequentially from early spring, scattering seeds over the same area several times, two or three weeks apart.

If you’re happy for nigella to self sow, leave some of the ornamental seed pods on the plants for the wind to shake free. If not, gather before the seeds ripen, enjoy the flowers or the pods in a vase or hang bunches of seed pods upside down somewhere dark to dry.

The pink love-in-a-mist flowers in these pictures were exhibited by Avon Bulbs at the Hampton Court Flower Show. You can source pink Nigella damascena seeds from them if, like me, you find their colour alluring.

Shared for Becky’s MarchSquares and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

48 Replies to “Cottage Garden Plants: Pink love-in-a-mist”

  1. Adore ‘love-in-a-mist’ but have rarely seen seeds for the delightful pink variety you have featured. Typically I have grown the blue one. Always save the seed pods to add more plants every year…Very nice blog post today! And, as always!

    1. I saw a really beautiful blue one used in a flower crown at the Hampton Court Flower Show this year. It was blue with a touch of green and purple. I didn’t think to ask the name, and have regretted it since. There was so much going on at the time, which is always the way at the shows.

  2. They are such gorgeous frothy flowers aren’t they? I have some very dark ones hiding under the bamboo. I tried growing some white ones last year but wasn’t very successful.Maybe I’ll have another attempt this year and sow them in pots first. The pink ones are very appealing, but I am very fond of ‘Miss Jekyll’

    1. I really like ‘Delft Blue too. Conventional wisdom says you should sow direct, but I see various companies are offering plug plants, so they must think it’s OK to transplant them. Good luck!

  3. I love Love-in-a-Mist. Great to photograph with it’s unusual centre. I’ve only seen the pink variety once, but I’m more than happy to see the blue or white variety.

    We used to have several in the Botanic Gardens near my old home, but they got cleared out and newer drought hardy native, or African, plant species were put in their place. In many ways I preferred the original English cottage garden plant species. Much prettier, more dainty flowers, but I do appreciate that our Australian summers are getting hotter and hotter, so it makes sense to re-landscape.

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