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Wisley's Alpine Diary
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Wisley's Alpine Diary

This entry: 04 December 2008 by Paul Cumbleton

Log 36

Wisley’s Alpine Log

By Paul Cumbleton

Log 36 … 04th December 2008

Despite the short, dull days there is still plenty of colour to lift our spirits a bit as we come in on these cold and frosty mornings. There are some plants that seem to want to flower almost all year round which makes them such good ‘value for money’ plants. Many Erigeron fall into this category and a couple we have flowering now are Erigeron eatonii and Erigeron linearis

Above: Erigeron eatonii

Below: Erigeron linearis

I love these little daisies; there are so many of them that make excellent plants both for pots and the open rock garden. The simple daisy flowers remind many of us I’m sure of childhood days making chains.

Now faded but not long since, Ipheion sessile can be relied upon to produce a good pot of flowers in late autumn. I don’t know why this plant is not grown more widely; with it’s sessile flowering stems it makes an ideal pan plant and seems altogether more refined than the more familiar Ipheion uniflorum. It grows and increases just as easily as that plant. It is said to do best if kept just frost-free, but we have had no problems with keeping it in an unheated glasshouse. In the wild it comes from Argentina and Uruguay. Though dormant during their hot summers, it does still get some rain and it does best in cultivation if this condition is mimicked by not letting it dry out completely during dormancy.

Above: Ipheion sessile

Some other plants that have been looking good for a few weeks now are the cultivars and hybrids of Saxifraga fortunei. These perform well both in pots and outside. Here are some in the Display House:

Outside in a moist, shady spot on the rock garden they light up the duller autumn days:

The promise of future colour is becoming obvious. These swelling buds of an Hepatica are a great example:

The South African bulbs and other plants we grow from there are continuing to provide a lot of colour and interest. Even outside there is still some interest like this Berkheya purpurea defying the frosts (but not for long I suspect!)

Some of the earlier flowering Lachenalia have started. There is one however whose flowers are of secondary interest to the wonderful markings on its leaf. This is Lachenalia zebrina – it is obvious where the name comes from:

The winter growing Oxalis are still giving a good show such as this Oxalis purpurea alba:

Oxalis versicolor is also still looking wonderful. This easy to grow and reliable plant is always a favourite with our visitors

The striped flowers always deserve a closer look:

Out in our Landscaped House the Massonia pustulata are flowering. There is no heat in here and these have survived two winters so far:

Finally I must show you two of my own favourite genus. These are plants from home but I know you’ll forgive me for that! Most Pleione flower in spring, but a very few are autumn or winter flowering. The prettiest of these is probably Pleione maculata:

Pleione praecox also flowers in autumn. This is the rare white form and it is a stunning plant:

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