A North Wales Alpine Gardener's Diary
This entry: 18 November 2013 - Entry 11 by John Good
We all know that November is a difficult month in the alpine garden, with few flowers to enjoy and, if you have lots of trees as we do, those are mostly covered in leaves until the time and energy can be summoned up to remove them. So this will be a short entry! Gentians provide the most obvious interest and this year more than usal the expected performance of the autumn floweirng Asiatic varieties has been augmented by the second flowering of their European spring flowering brethren, although if the truth be known, I have quite often been able to find flowers of the latter for my Christmas dinner table posy. Best among these in my garden is the old pale selection of Gentiana acaulis which I have had for many years as G. a. 'Coelestina' (is this the correct spelling, and indeed the right name?).
G. acaulis 'Rannoch' also has a few of its wonderful darker flowers on display .Most of the Asiatic varieties are finishing now, Aberconwy's .G. 'Silken Night' perhaps hanging on the best, and it is a very good large flower of real substance, among the best of the Levers' offerings.
I have used the last few dry and mild days to remake my raised sleeper bed, which is situated below a very large old beech tree and is hence devoted chiefly to woodlanders. Over a period of c. 6 years the soil in the bed had sunk by about 15 cm. (6 inches) and I needed to bring the level back up to within 5 cm. (2 inches) of the top of the sleepers, which I have done using my homemade compost and nothing else. This was well rotted, as the picture shows, and should suite these plants, being reasonably well drained but high in organic matter. The major part of the task was lifting the plants (and finding them in the case of some of the out-of-growth storage organs!), splitting where necessary, and replanting. There are some nice trilliums in here, including a fine speckled pale pink form of T. rivale, given to me many years ago by Frank and Gladys Stallard, who will have been well known to many of my older readers, and seedlings of the form known, for obvious reasons, as 'Purple Heart'. I took a photo of the lifted rhizomes of the latter which now ,that they have more space will hopefully make a nice clump.
There are also some nice erythronium species in this bed, all raised from Ron Ratko wild collected seed some 10 years ago. These were also lifted and split and I show as an example the corms of E. citrinum.