I have talked before about how useful Alyssum is in the garden - it's drought tolerant, easy to grow, makes a great border in the garden, has a great fragrance, and attracts beneficial insects. But it's also a great boon to a fall garden. Sometimes it can flag a bit during the height of summer, especially further south, but by fall it rejuvenates. And, to the appreciation of the local pollinators, established Sweet Alyssum plants can take light frosts.
Alyssum is part of the botanical family Brassicaceae, aka the cabbage and mustard family, interestingly enough. It is native to the Mediterranean region, Canary Islands, Azores, and the Bay of Biscay in France, among other coastal regions, which is how it ended up with the botanical name Lobularia maritima, with 'maritima' meaning 'of the sea'. It grows naturally on sandy dunes, which explains why it is so fabulously drought tolerant.
Of course, the ability to be drought tolerant and reseed itself around can be both a blessing and a bother. As great as it is in my garden, beware that in dryer, sandier areas it can be a little too giving, and in California it has managed to land itself on the invasive list.
|Sweet Alyssum thriving in my hellstrip|
Would you be surprised to find out that Sweet Alyssum can actually be a short-lived perennial? In warm climates, it will live more than a year. It has no chance of living through our type of winter, but for now all the little blooms are a welcome addition to the fall garden...
and much appreciated by a lot of little guys.