A sunset walk in the E.H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden always reveals some mottled patterns of light and shade on the plants, as the more westerly trees in other Garden areas cast different shadows each day. In today’s photograph, the fading light still shone on the yellow-flowered broom in the background, while the thrift blossoms in the foreground were shaded and near-shadowless.
Armeria welwitschii bears no common name in English other than thrift, but in Portugal it is known as “Erva-divina” or “Raiz-divina” (divine-herb or divine-root). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find an explanation on why it is divine, other than Rosa’s speculation at Blog de cheiros that it is because of its magnificent form and harsh environment: Armeria welwitschii. A Portuguese endemic, Armeria welwitschii is native to seaside dunes and cliffs, occurring no more than 250m from where the sea meets the land (link has additional photographs). I don’t know if the species is legally-designated as being threatened, but the invasive Carpobrotus edulis has been observed to take over its habitat (ref: Armeria welwitschii at O Botânico Aprendiz na Terra dos Espantos).
For cultivation information, see Cal’s Plant-of-the-Week: Armeria welwitschii.