Alpines in the garden throughout the year

With a wealth of experience gained from over 20 years of growing Alpines, Pam provided an inspiring talk. She dispelled myths such as: ‘Alpines are hard to grow’, ‘Alpines are all small’, ‘Alpines don’t live long’, ‘Alpines don’t like shade…’

They do like crevices, which can be vertical using rocks or tiles inserted end on, and using smaller plants from a garden centre often results in better success than from bigger pots.

Tips for Alpines:
  • Use well drained soil;  (John Innes No2 with 50% grit and a bit of compost will do).
  • If transplanting bigger plants, damage the roots to stimulate new growth. An old Belfast sink can provide an ideal planter, but shallow pots will also work.
  • Protect the plants from damp, though they may need protection in an unheated greenhouse in winter.
  • If planting in a  wall, best to plant as the wall is constructed.

Alpines can be used as underplanting for other plants such as roses, and some, such as thyme can be used as ground cover, though beware they can spread and roots can get very long .

Cyclamen and crocus with dwarf iris start the year in January, followed in February by early saxifrages, they don’t mind the snow. March sees miniature narcissi, species tulips, iris reticulata and by April a whole palate of plants from sedums, arabis, pulsatilla, aubretia, primulas and gentians providing wonderful colour. In May the chaenorhinium, alpine phlox, dianthus and saxifrage lithodora add to the garden delights. 

By June silene, penstemon pinnolius, globulania , Oenothera are coming through and in July campanula thyrsoides , dianthus cathusanorum, potentilla eriocarpa  with more varieties of sedum provide a wonderful display. 

Dwarf geraniums  and acis autumnale with cyclamen make an appearance in August and by September  allium beeson, diascia, silene, colchicum (autumn crocus) along with hypericum and sternbergia bring wonderful colours and shapes to the autumn garden.

Even in October, penstemon eatonii , and later in November and December gentians, scabies aster snow, arabis Ferdinand and cyclamen bring cheer to otherwise dark months in the garden.

Alpines live crevices
Wild alpine, liverwort. Wales