Plants in the Alpine House or Cold Frame: In flower at Kew this week
Started by: Richard Wilford
A few highlights from Kew's Alpine HouseGo to latest contribution by Richard Wilford, 13 May 2008, 13:41. Go to bottom of this page.
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The warm weather this week in London has encouraged many plants to flower inside and out. The shading in the Davies Alpine House helps keep temperatures down inside but the free-standing pots need regular checking for watering.
On one of the display benches is a display of Campanula (along with the yellow Verbascum dumulosum). The white-flowered species in the centre is the Turkish Campanula choruhensis, very similar and closely related to C. betulifolia.
The delicate-looking Rhodanthemum gayanum comes from Morocco. Here flowering in front of Helichrysum orientale from SE Europe and Turkey. These are grown in pots but they also survive outside on the rock garden at Kew.
An exciting plant on display is the South American Petunia patagonica. Forming close-knit mounds of small, sticky leaves, these plant suddenly decided to bloom last week, producing these delicately-veined, brownish violet and cream flowers with a typical petunia shape. This is the first time we have flowered this species at Kew but our plants are not as good as the one shown by Mavis Allanson at the East Cheshire show last weekend (see the Plants at Shows topic)
The first of the roscoeas are out. This is the Chinese Roscoea cautleoides, from Yunnan & Sichuan. The yellow forms usually flower earlier than the purple-flowered forms (forma sinopurpurea) and growing them under glass in a cold frame brings them out a week or two earlier than those on the rock garden.
The South African corm Homeria collina has short-lived flowers but they are produced in succession so this plant looks good for a couple of weeks or more. It is a winter grower from the Cape Province and is in the iris family.
Also from the southern Hemisphere is Stenomesson miniatum (Amaryllidaceae), previously known as Urceolina peruviana. It comes from Peru and Bolivia.
Dionysia involucrata is flowering nicely, planted between rocks. This species comes from the Pamir Alai mountains of Central Asia. On the label you can just see the code WEND under the accession number. This tells us that this material was originally collected by the great botanist Per Wendelbo of Gothenberg Botanic Garden.
The sandstone rocks inside the Alpine House are home to a number of cliff dwellers (chasmophytes). Here is Corydalis tomentella from China and in bud on the right is Centaurea clementei, which used to be thought of as endemic to southern Spain but has also been collected from northern Morocco, just over the Strait of Gibraltar.
... and once through the Alpine House you are in the rock garden, which has changed dramatically over the last week or two as more and more plants come into flower.
This is what the Centaurea clementei mentioned above looks like in flower. It is larger than your usual 'alpine' but nevertheless, its silvery leaves and abundant flower heads make it well worth growing. It can be grown outside in a sunny, sheltered position and enjoys a free root run better than the confines of a pot. Propagation is simple from seed.