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Easy to grow plants in the AGS garden

April 29, 2019
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On a recent visit to the Alpine Garden Society centre in Pershore, I took a look around the on-site garden. Filled with plants in rockeries, crevices, troughs, woodland areas and more, it’s an excellent example of how to grow alpine plants in a garden setting. Here are several plants from the garden that are ideal for anyone new to alpine gardening.

Armeria maritima

This native species is indispensable in early spring for a burst of colour in the rock garden. Both its Latin name, maritima, and English name, sea-thrift, make a note of where the plant usually grows:

It’s name (Latin maritima, common name sea-thrift) reference were the plant usually grows; on rocky cliffs, meadows and beaches on the coast.

Armerias are quite variable and alongside botanical subspecies and forms it has given rise to many cultivars. In the garden these cushion and mat forming plants are easy to grow provided they have a free draining soil in full sun.They will do very well on a rockery, a gravel path or even in pots and troughs.

Ajuga reptans

Yet another easy species for new alpine gardeners. Originating in Eurasia, this stoloniferous species is the most widely grown in its genus. In the wild it is found in woodlands and moist meadows. In the garden it prefers similar conditions – plant either in the shade of shrubs and trees or a relatively damp flower bed. In time, they form compact mats topped up with blue flowers and blue-tinted bracts.

Part of the Lamiaceae family, A. reptans is related to lavender, mints and salvias and shares their status as good pollinator plants.

Most cultivars are designed to extend colour and interest in the garden and have decorative foliage. Choices range from dark metallic leaves through to pink-flushed foliage.

Phlox subulata

The genus Phlox is well-loved by gardeners. There are several species suitable for the alpine enthusiast’s garden.

Phlox subulata is one such plant and is perhaps the easiest to grow. It forms large mats (up to 2ft across) covered with pink, purple or white flowers. The many varieties readily available from most nurseries and garden centres will flower from April to June.

It does best in full sun in any location with good drainage. Planted at the front of borders or edging a gravel drive they grow well alongside other sun loving, cushion-forming plants like dwarf varieties of lavender and thyme, or even species tulips and irises.  

Image of Răzvan Chişu Răzvan Chişu

Răzvan Chişu MCIHort, has had a passion for alpines since he joined the AGS aged 14. As a professional horticulturalist, he divides his time between garden design jobs, giving lectures and running plant hunting tours. His plant interests are diverse and wide ranging, from bulbs, to ferns, succulents and hardy perennials.