Our plant shows display some of the finest-grown alpine plants in the UK. Exhibitors in the Open Section are expert growers with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to growing some of the toughest plants successfully, but that doesn’t mean that some of the plants they grow aren’t suitable for the general gardener.
Răzvan Chişu shares a few such plants that were on display at our recent show in Kendal.
Hacquetia epipactis is a herbaceous perennial native to the mountainous forests in mainland Europe. It is the only species in its genus which belongs to the Apiaceae family (commonly known as the carrot family).
It’s an interesting plant: what appear to be petals are actually bracts framing the central inflorescence (cluster of flowers). In this form, the bracts and leaves (which appear after flowering) have a creamy-white edge.
Hacquetia epipactis can be grown in a woodland garden, a trough or in shade. Plant in a humus-rich soil. One of the first plants to flower in early spring, it is a wonderful choice to grow alongside other woodlanders like snowdrops, Hepatica or small ferns.
There are over 450 species of Corydalis, ranging from the impossible to grow species native to the Himalayas to the obnoxious weed species that appear annually!
Corydalis solida is a well-behaved woodlander that is also native to mainland Europe and extending into Asia. It’s a highly variable species with many recognised varieties in a spectrum of colours, from purple to deep red to purest white.
They propagate by seed (if they are happy they will self seed around in the garden) or offsets.In the open garden, they are best grown in soil improved with well rotted compost or, even better, leaf mould. Don’t allow it to dry out in summer. Plant alongside the smaller geraniums, crocus varieties or Ophiopogon.
This Clematis and buttercup relative is a stalwart in the spring garden. There are many cultivars to choose from.
Pulsatilla can be easily grown from seed, which is the preferred propagation method as it resents root disturbance. In time, it forms clumps topped by bell-shaped flowers in shades of yellow, white, pink, purple and everything in between. The seed heads are also very decorative, especially backlit by the low evening sun.
It prefers a well-drained position in full sun, ideal for a rock garden. It can also be grown in pots.
If you’re new to the world of alpine gardening, you can find tips on getting started in our beginners’ guide.
If you’re interested in coming along to one of our shows, you can see the full schedule here.
Răzvan Chişu MCIHort, has had a passion for alpines since he joined the AGS aged 14. As a professional horticulturist, 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.