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. You got me with the comparison to your sweetheart. I had trouble concentrating after that, though I was glad to know he didn’t turn green. I’m also glad to know all those other folk names — that wonderful image of the flower meadow begs for all kinds of folk names! What a merriment grows there!

    1. He’s not spotted it yet, so looks like I’ve got away with the tease. Merriment sound like the perfect collective noun for flowers in a meadow. These are not quite wildflowers, but they have the same freedom of character.

  2. Oh how beautiful! I love those pink ones! Beautiful photos! Coïncidently I bought some of the pink seeds for myself this year and need to sow them now. I already have the blues in my garden and they come back every year on all kinds of places. They are great flowers! Have a wonderful day!

  3. Beautiful. I just planted some of these seeds for the first time. I am so excited to see them grow and bloom. Thank you for this informative post.

  4. I love these flowers and I was shocked to hear the name “Jack in the Green.” You see, I wrote a YA fantasy book about the green man and a teenage girl with a mystical connection to plants. In one scene the protagonist encounters flowers that talk and tell her secrets about the green world and how to connect with it. Those flowers? Nigella. 🙂

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