Anagallis arvensis, the scarlet pimpernel, is the wild flower from which Baroness Orczy’s hero took his name. It is a small, annual weed growing to about 1 ft., usually with bright scarlet flowers, although the colour varies. It is also called the ‘poor man’s weather glass’ because the flowers close temporarily when cloudy or wet weather is likely. (They also close in the afternoon, so this ‘test’ is hardly infallible!)

Anagallis linifolia is perennial in the wild but is best treated as an annual in gardens. There are blue, red and white forms, growing to about 6 in. Sow outdoors in April where they are to flower, avoiding cold, wet soils.

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