Archive | Alpine Garden

Plants and how to develop an Alpine garden

St Valentine’s Flowers but Aubretia?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so keep an eye open for unusual sights on the 14th February. Rather than Roses or posies this Aubretia plant has decided to grow a heart shape all of its own.

Aubretia is a compact low growing plant that flourishes on walls and rockeries in full sun. Aubretia is easy to grow at the front of the border on any reasonably drained fertile soil and will spread naturally by seed.

Aubretia deltoides or rock cress is good for ground cover and is available in shades of blue and purple.

Grow from seed by sowing from late winter to early summer in a good free draining seed compost just covering the seed. Make sure the compost is moist and not wet and seal in a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 14-21 days at 18C (65F).

Aubretia is an evergreen perennial plant that is attractive to butterflies.

Plants by Thompson Morgan

Seeds by Thompson Morgan

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Alpine Plunge Bed

Double Plunge Bed

The new Alpine House at Harlow Carr has a plunge bed to be proud of as you may expect from the RHS. This Dionysia Curviflora has been double potted to facilitate watering and it’s flowers will be purple with a white inner ring and dark centre.

The plunge bed is at a good viewing height and the display can be changed as plants develop and seasons change. As a purpose built, alpine house plunge bed there are several features it would be hard to incorporate in my glasshouse but the rake from front to back and the use of rocks builds up height to provide a landscape rather than a flat two dimensional display.

The sand and gravel mixes vary depending on the plants being grown. Some free planting around the plunged pots adds to the attraction of this type of alpine display. The alpine house is climate controlled but much of the daily watering is done by hand before visitors arrive to view the gardens.

I am now keen to develop a better plunge area for my alpines. That is one of the joys or costs of visiting a best of class display like RHS gardens.

Tip – Study the best and think how you can incorporate new ideas in your gardening. The photo below shows how different coloured chippings and grits can work with your display.

Plunge Bed


Alpine Troughs and Plant Selections

Alpine trough

Outside Harlow Carr’s new Alpine house are a collection of troughs, stone sinks and other containers suitable for a collection of Alpine plants. The planting varies and is related to the soil and rock conditions each plant prefers. One container has old rotting logs and a richer soil for small rhododendrons and other species. Others have carefully inserted rock slivers to replicate mountain conditions giving shade and more importantly deep root runs and drainage.

Alpines in trough

Whilst the troughs vary in size they are all less than 6 feet by 4 feet and could fit into virtually any garden. There is also many more outdoor containers full of selected plants. I was amazed at the number and variety of plants on display in the middle of November. They are all carefully named on these black labels with a white fiber tip pen which I resolved to try in my garden. On some plants there is a topical note that explains why it currently features or how it is grown. ( An autumn flowering variety of snowdrop fit into that category)

Trough for alpines

The photographs can be enlarged using flickr by double clicking on the image and going to all sizes. I hope the name tags are then visible.
A picture inside the house is available on the RHS website. and for Alpine plant lovers Harlow Carr is now worth a special visit.
The Alpine garden society have a good article on your own Alpine trough


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