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Category: Alpine Garden

Plants and how to develop an Alpine garden

Saxifrages in Alpine Gardens

Saxifrages in Alpine Gardens

There are a host of different Saxifraga or singular Saxifrage. They make for an interesting group to grow and collect both in the garden and in troughs or pots depending on the variety. Saxifrage kolenatiana has rosettes that throw up spikes of flower in summer similar to its better known Saxifrage relative ‘London Pride’.

Groups of Saxifrages

These are just some of the groupings of Saxifrage each contain many variants, varieties and species for which you need a more detailed document. See links below.

  • Saxifraga x arendsii or Mossy Saxifrage is useful for walls, troughs and shady rockeries.
  • Saxifraga stolonifera  groundcover under flowering shrubs or small trees OK in shade or Saxifraga x urbium London Pride
  • Saxifraga cotyledon or Pyramidal Saxifrage for troughs and pots
  • Saxifraga paniculata: Encrusted Saxifrage, group 4 for walls, edger; sun to part shade
  • Saxifraga primuloides: a miniature variety for shaded rockeries

Links and Further Information

The Saxifrage Society

Saxifraga World


RHS  Silver Saxifrage Trials

Book Cover

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Rock Gardens in Miniature

Rock Gardens in Miniature

Kew 330

Your own rock garden does not have to be as large as that at Kew. You do not need to demonstrate every regional zone on the planet. Nor do you need specimen plants that grow in all the range of soil conditions and climates.
Better to concentrate on doing one or two things well.

Alpine house

On the same theme growing small plants can be an absorbing hobby. As with Kew gardens you will be very fortunate if you can replicate the alpine house at Harlow Carr shown above. However these two national gardens can give you inspiration for your own feature Rock Garden.

As it says in ‘The Rock Garden Plant Primer: Easy, Small Plants for Containers, Patios, and the Open Garden’ by C Grey-Wilson

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Growing Aubretia from Seed

Growing Aubretia from Seed


Aubretia is an excellent, 6″ high perennial that is almost smothered with flowers in early spring.
Aubretia is suitable for rockeries, walls, borders, edging paths, planters and window boxes. Spread is 12-18in and flower colours include blue, rich purple and pink shades.

Sowing Instructions

  • Sow by just covering the seed, from late winter to early summer, in a good free draining seed compost.
  • Add some grit or sharp sand to ordinary compost as Aubretia doesn’t like wet feet.
  • Make sure the compost is moist and not wet and seal in a polythene bag.
  • Germination usually takes 14-21 days at 65F .

Growing Instructions

  • Transplant, when large enough to handle, into boxes or 3in pots.
  • Later plant out 12in apart into a sunny, well drained garden soil preferably containing lime.
  • Trim with shears after flowering to keep plants tidy. Allow to trail if you like the unkempt look.
  • Desirable plants can be increased by cuttings or layering in late spring.

Old Hybrids to Look Out For

  • Doctor Muller – deep violet-blue
  • Mrs Rodewald – larger red flowers.
  • Bridesmaid – pale pink  with a deeper eye.
  • Barker’s Double -  a pink mix with semi and double flowers

You can buy seeds or plants from Thompson & Morgan and other seed suppliers

Aubretia deltoidea Variegata has white edged leaves.

Aubretia deltoidea Aurea has gold edged leaves. Aubretia is also in books with the spelling Aubrieta and Aubrietia

Delosperma Succulents in Your Garden

Delosperma Succulents in Your Garden

Delosperma are plants to keep your eye on as there popularity increases.
Wild Delosperma are South African succulent perennials related to Mesembryanthemums. Some Delosperma may need some protection from wet in UK winters but the colourful daisy like flowers are attractive and bloom in masses over long summer periods.

Delospurnum Pink Ribbon

There are many forms of Delosperma with vast numbers of showy flowers produced over long periods. Some species form low, dense clumps and are more suitable as groundcover in shady spots.
The flowers are available in a series of bright colours to attract pollinating insects. The leaves are generally green, glossy and sometimes tinged with red.
You can grow Delosperma plants from seed or cuttings and buy examples from a growing number of nurseries.

Delospurnum sunderlandii

Where to Grow Delosperma Varieties

  • Delosperma can be grown to hang over walls or the edges of containers on patios.
  • Alpine houses are a good place to display your Delosperma.
  • Deloserma are ideal rockery plants or useful at the front of borders as edging.
  • Specimen plants in cold greenhouses flower for long periods.
  • Delosperma with often flower in semi shade.

Delospurnum sunderlandii

Delosperma Varieties and Species

  • Part of the Mesembryanthemaceae family or Aizoaceae the flower colours vary from white, cream, yellow, and orange to shades of pink and red.
  • There are up to 100 species of Delosperma that can cross fertilise.
  • Delosperma cooperi is often referred to as the Hardy Ice Plant
  • Delosperma congestum – sutherlandii is a low growing evergreen with glossy succulent leaves and typical flowers.
  • Delosperma nubigenum flowers yellow and is suitable for the rockery.

Plants from T&M

Tips for Growing Forget-Me-Nots

Tips for Growing Forget-Me-Nots

Lincoln 120

Forget-me-not Cultivation and Growing Tips

  • These plants are very easy to grow from seed. Sow one year and they flower the next because most varieties are biennials.
  • Forget-me-nots are usually blue but are also found in pink and white and shades of blue.
  • Forget-me-nots are dwarf, compact plants upto a foot tall! A fantastic addition to spring beds and borders.
  • The plants complement golden Daffodils yellow Wallflowers and Primulas.
  • Sow May -June and thin out. Plants self sow all over my garden so clear out any invaders.
  • Plants can also be purchase to avoid the problems of sowing your own.
  • Naturalised flowers become less spectacular – renew with seed every few years. Try a stronger strain.


Forget-me-not Common Names and Varieties to Consider

  • Myosotis is the Latin name for Forget-me-nots. It is a family of 50 species. See main varieties at the foot of this page
  • Historically it got the name ‘mouse ears’ due to the shape of its leaves.
  • Varieties to look out for include Ultramarine and Blue ball or for Alpine Forget-me-nots ‘Ruth Fisher’.

Unusual Facts about Forget-me-nots

  • Newfoundland in Canada used the Forget-me-not as a symbol of remembrance of that nation’s war dead.
  • Germans and Freemasons use forget-me-nots as a symbol not to forget the poor and desperate. (Germany may need a good crop with the economy in such a state.)

Old & Odd Tips From Gardeners Tips on Forget-me-nots

  • Plant in drifts around the edge of ponds.
  • Pull up and compost plants as they finish flowering – you will still get lots of seedlings.
  • Use forget-me-nots as a cut flower when in bud to prolong vase life.

Dandelion and Forget-me-nots (1)

Horticultural Sources and Advice on Forget-me-not

  • You can often obtain seeds or plants from our mail order company of choice Thompson & Morgan
  • Powdery mildew can be a problem in dry soil. Pull up and destroy infected plants.
  • Species include; Myosotis alpestris – Alpine Forget-me-not
    Myosotis arvensis – Field Forget-me-not
    Myosotis asiatica – Asiatic Forget-me-not
    Myosotis azorica – Azores Forget-me-not
    Myosotis caespitosa – Tufted Forget-me-not
    Myosotis discolor – Changing Forget-me-not
    Myosotis latifolia – Broadleaf Forget-me-not
    Myosotis laxa – Tufted Forget-me-not, Bay Forget-me-not
    Myosotis scorpioides – True Forget-me-not
    Myosotis secunda – Creeping Forget-me-not
    Myosotis sicula – Jersey Forget-me-not
    Myosotis sylvatica – Wood Forget-me-not
    Myosotis verna – Spring Forget-me-not

Flowers from my granny's garden
forget-me-nots by Mags CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Dandelion and Forget-me-nots (1) by Purrrpl_Haze CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Flowers from my granny’s garden by sermoa CC BY-SA 2.0

Growing Echeveria a Succulent Succulent

Growing Echeveria a Succulent Succulent

Echeveria Glauca has fleshy curving lobes in a geometric arrangement. As you may expect the lobes or leaves are blue-grey in colour. The delicate  flowers in summer are white and extend from the base of the plant. They grow 3″ tall and need free draining soil in full sun or partial shade. The rosettes spread by the addition of new rosettes forming a circular mound. Plant 6 ” apart.

Echeveria Elegans has pink arching stems that produce dainty, yellow-tipped, red flowers. The dense rosettes of blueish white, fleshy leaves are often red tinged. They grow 2″ tall but spread more rapidly than Glauca so need to be planted 16″ apart.

Echeveria are often used in carpet bedding and floral clocks
Echeveria are generally rosette forming succulents.

Most Echeveria can be easily propagated from leaf cuttings or offsets To propagate a leaf cutting, place the individual leaf in a succulent or cacti mix and cover the dish until the new plant sprouts.

Yorkshire Echiveria

What would you call a shop in a courtyard that sells plants and pots? In Otley Yorkshire you would call it Courtyard Planters. Years ago you may have called it the stable yard for the Half Moon Inn.

Most of the planters have very few eco-miles on the clock as the Terracotta pots are from Barnsley Yorkshire, the earthenware salt glazed pots are made in Northumberland. Unfortunately the Oak Barrels come from an other country – Scotland to be precise where they used to mature whiskey.

At the weekend I bought a couple of plants including a Dianthus Neon Star that shone out to me in the shade of the courtyard. The other plant was an Echeveria elegans with lots of extra rosettes of succulent foliage. I thought I would take the offsets and grow them as cuttings but forgot they were quite tender. Still, if I am successful I will find somewhere to over winter them.
If not Chiltern Seeds generally stock mixed Echeveria seeds that ‘mostly have fleshy leaves forming rosettes of a wide assortment of attractive, geometric designs in a range of colours from green through grey to almost white, often with markings in contrasting shades.’

Courtyard planters do not sell mail order that is not the type of gardeners they are but if you visit Otley look them up. If you are near Otley they offer free delivery.


Growing Rain Lily Bulbs & Zephyranthes

Growing Rain Lily Bulbs & Zephyranthes

Try a new flower to go with  seasonal rain. This 2015 update on my attempts to grow Rain Lilies

I discovered a 6 inch pot in my greenhouse with a label saying Habranthus but I don’t know where I got the contents from. There were a couple of short, green, narrow leaves and little else until this week when flowers erupted from the soil on 4 inch stems with petals nearly as long.

I water my greenhouse with a hosepipe spray except when I am adding fertilizer and recently I have been misting over all the pots and plants. You can see how the spray has stuck to the Habranthus flower.


Habranthus is a genus in the Amaryllidaceae family with species from Central and South America extending into southern North America. They have narrow, linear or strap-shaped leaves. Their flowers are very similar to Zephyranthes and both are called rain lilies.

This variety of Habranthus is flowering in late Summer (Sept) and offers a delicate touch to colour with minimum fuss. Habranthus bulbs should be quite hardy in the UK.

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Primula Kewensis One of the Worlds Top Ten

Primula Kewensis One of the Worlds Top Ten

Primula Kewensis

It is believed that the Kew Primrose, Primula Kewensis was bred from Primula verticillata and Primula floribunda around 1905. It should be high in the world’s top ten Primula varieties. It flowers yellow or lemon-yellow and has these attractive leaves when grown in the cold Alpine house.The downy powder is called meal or Farina and gives a grey-green appeal to the leaves similar to some show Auriculas. The seeds grow true and do not hybridise.


There are approaching 500 species of Primulas and numerous societies who specialise in the genus. The National Auricula and Primrose society Northern branch, The American Primula Society
Primula Kewensis to start the week
As seen in the exotic green houses of the Belgian National Botanical Garden.

More Primula seeds from Thompson & Morgan

Primula by Badly Drawn Dad CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Primula Kewensis to start the week by Vainsang CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Leucogenes Leontopodium – New Zealand Edelweiss

Leucogenes Leontopodium – New Zealand Edelweiss

Leucogenes Leontopodium

Growing inside an alpine house in a three inch pot this “Leucogenes Leontopodium” is also called the New Zealand Edelweiss. It is a herby plant similar to its European Edelweiss cousins. In the Northern Hemisphere I expect this plant will produce white flowers around June.

Leucogenes Leontopodium is a small perennial herb with a woody base. The leaves are densely covered in silky hairs giving it a grey appearance. Clusters of flowers are surrounded by woolly bracts in summer.

Leucogenes grandiceps is a similar plant from the South Island of New Zealalnd

Leontopodium alpinum or Edelweiss grows amongst the rocky limestone mountains of Europe. The plants can be grown from seed but are protected when in the wild.