Archive | Alpine Garden

Plants and how to develop an Alpine garden

Plunge Bed Success this Spring

Alpine house
I have reported before about the Alpine house at RHS Harlow Carr. Now we can begin to see the fruits of all the labours both in growing and display.

There must be 100 different plants on display many of which were in flower this week. I know the pictures are small but how many varieties can you recognise?

Just by observing the plunge beds regularly, I am picking up tips that I hope to be able to use in my own cultivation.

Alpine House Harlow Carr

See Gardeners Tips on Plunge Beds

Beginners instructions for building a plunge bed for growing Tete-a-tete narcissus from the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society.
‘To construct a plunge-bed dig a pit in a well drained piece of ground that will not flood – near a tree or hedge will be fine. A wooden frame, sufficient to hold the pots, on top of the ground will do equally as well. Place the pots in the plunge-bed or frame and cover them with soil/compost/sand to a depth of about 5cm. They can now be forgotten until the spring. A strong cardboard box stored in a dry cold garage or shed will do equally as well. Cover the pots in the same way as above and don’t let them dry out.’

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Sedum spathulifolium all year round

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Sedum spathulifolium make dense mats of grey foliage. The cheerful yellow flowers can be up to 3″ across.

Originally from west and north America this hardy plant is now found in many rockery and alpine gardens. It can be grown successfully with Sempervivums or other Sedum.

Sedum spathulifolium varieties to Grow

  • Sedum spathulifolium purpureum has wine coloured leaves when young.
  • Sedum spathulifolium ‘Capablanca’ has virtually white leaves and is more delicate needing protection in an apline house.
  • Cape Blanco has tiny, fleshy rosettes of whitish-gray leaves. It spreads slowly to form low dense mats. Good in containers.
  • Although attractive in flower, Sedum spathulifolium are at their best in midwinter with their colourful evergreen foliage and attractive shapes.
  • ‘Carnea’ has rounded, fleshy, silver-green leaves shaded with crimson and bright yellow summer flowers. see images.

Read also Growing Sedum or Stonecrop and more on  Succulents

Continue Reading →

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Cushion Plant Growing Tips

gypsophillia aretiodes

What are Cushion Plants

  • Surprise!  Cushion plants look like cushions although they may be firmer.
  • Cushion plants grow very slowly and  evenly. They grow rosettes of leaves all at once so that no one part of the plant is more exposed than others.
  • The flowers are small and often massed closely nestled in the leaves for protection.
  • The low growing, dense foliage of a cushion plant acts as a layer of insulation, protecting the roots and stems.

Saxifraga

Where to Find Cushion Plants

  • Cushion plants  grow in rapidly draining rocky or sandy soils
  • They grow in exposed and windy conditions such as alpine, arctic and arid areas.
  • A cushion plant  can thrive because it insulates itself  and has time to develop very deep  taproots .
  • Cushion plants in several families can be found all over the world. Continue Reading →
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Rockery Plants in a Rock Box

Rock Box

A call this a rock box as it is one way of displaying rockery plants above ground level.

The size of these interesting rock plants allows you to get many species in one small container. This tannalized wooden frame was custom made about 4 feet square and is on display outside the new Alpine house at RHS gardens Harlow Carr. I counted over 30 different species planted in this one container.

Below is a close-up of the Armeria junperfolia from the same display.

Armeria juniperfolia

See also Rock Gardens in Miniature

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Growing Triteleia Bulbs

Triteleia starlight

Tips for Growing Triteleia

  • Triteleia ixioides Starlight is a straw coloured flowering bulb that is easy to grow.
  • Flowers in umbels of up to 25 have 6 petals that open flat like wheel spokes and they can last for 8 weeks. they make good cut flowers.
  • They like a light, well drained soil and are good pot subjects.
  • Plants are 18-24″ tall and spread about 4″.
  • They can be grown from seed (flowers are pollinated by butterflies) or from cultivated 1-2cm ‘corms’.

Other Names and Species

  • Triteleia ixioides ssp. unifolia has a similar yellow colouring but the centre of each petal has a dark central line.
  • Triteleia ixioides is also known in its native California as Coast Pretty Face or Golden brodiaea. The bulbs are often listed as Brodiaea
  • Triteleia anilina is a mountain form that emerges in spring and blooms later than other Triteleia.
  • Triteleia laxa are purple flowering varieties widely available as corms in the UK.
  • Triteleia hyacinthina have many often white florets.

The Pacific Bulb Society has a large report on numerous species.

Read Growing Habranthus

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Dry Stone Wall Planting

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Crevice gardens are all the rage at the moment. The careful alignment of rocks can create some interesting locations for alpine and rockery plants. They are also very good for helping wild life to thrive.
See pictures of the Alpine Garden society rock supplier.

Other crevices can arise naturally or be created in the environment. These very high retaining walls are on a roadside but have been left like a dry stone wall. Rubble and soil are piled inside the stone which has been cut and faced. Between the stone a variety of plants are colonising the area.

You can create your own dry stone wall or crevice garden from a stone and a bank of soil.

Features of a Dry Stone Wall.

  • Water runs freely through the retaining wall and is not trapped on the leaves of plants that are susceptible to rot.
  • The soil is often poor in nutrients and is attractive to plants that thrive on those conditions.
  • Moss and lichen will colonise the damp shaded places but in the full sun other plant variety will grow.
  • Parts of the wall will be hot and dry so the plant selection should bear these conditions in mind.
  • Insects and birds can use dry stone wall for food and shelter. Leave some uncut grass at the foot of the wall
  • Height is not crucial but the wall needs to be at least a foot thick.
  • Local rocks are best and will dictate the ph of the conditions.

Continue Reading →

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Primula – Alpines and Pot Plants

Primula is a genus with over 500 species and numerous hybrids, divided into 30+ sections.

Primula seiboldii blue japan

Primulas all have flowers with 5 rounded petals like our own primrose Primula vulgaris. The cowslips, Primula elatior, flowers in simple umbels and the candelabras in rising tiers of umbels.

Primula 'E L Bolton'

European Primulas

  • These plant s are hardy and most will succeed in any well drained gritty soil with plenty of humus.
  • All are spring flowering except Primula auricula, marginata, rubra and viscosa.
  • Although most like an open sunny position care must be taken to avoid drying out in too much sunshine.
  • With only a few exceptions the Primulas tolerate or even welcome lime.
  • Some varieties die back to a resting bud during summer.

Primula allianii Joan Hughes Continue Reading →

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Alpine Success at Lower Levels

You do not need to garden on top of a hill or mountain to have an Alpine garden but it helps.
Alpine plants tend to have deep roots and a deeper dislike for wet around their necks. Many alpines are bulbs and use other tactics to survive harsh conditions. For every generalisation there is an exception and this book gives you a better insight into Alpine plants.

Book Cover
Success with Alpine Gardening by Graham Clarke

The Alpine Garden Society is one of the best organisations that I belong too. Their seed catalogue contains thousands of varieties that members can obtain for free or nominal amounts. The magazine is both travelogue and garden informative. Give the AGS a try

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Succulent Rosette Rock Plants

Botanically we refer to a rosette as a circular arrangement of leaves with all the leaves at a single height. On Succulents these rosettes usually sit near the soil.

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The succulent Echeveria can drive you up the wall. High on a rock face these plants cling to the rock with little support from their roots. On Maderia the ground was former volcanic rock and seemed porous.

  • Echeveria are drought-resistant, although they do better with deep watering.
  • Most will tolerate shade and some frost, although hybrid species tend to be less tolerant.
  • Foliage is arranged in a rosette in a variety of shapes and colors.
  • Flowers will appear on the top of stalks that grow from between the leaves.
  • Suitable for crevise gardens or a rockery.

Book Cover

Other Rosette Forming Succulents

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Read about Growing Echeveria and check out Australian site  The Succulent Garden

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