Alpines and rock plants

Must-have hepaticas

Hepaticajaponica500 I’m sorry there’s been a little gap in posts here recently… rushing round England… laid up with the Rice family head-and-chest cold… visiting family and friends… But I’ve spotted a few interesting plants on my travels and the first I’ll mention are hepaticas.

Many of the early woodland flowers are such jewels that the covetous thoughts they elicit can be distinctly uncomfortable. Hepaticas come high on the “Wow” list but you can head to the RHS Garden at Wisley this weekend and admire their impressive collection; it’s on display in the Alpine House until the end of Sunday afternoon.

Sparkling pristine singles in blues, pinks and white, exquisite doubles, prettily marbled foliage – the collection features plants in a vast variety of forms from North America and Asia many of which are easy to grow outside in shady places as well as in pots. They’re great in a shady, unheated greenhouse – not many plants enjoy conditions like that.

So be sure to pick up a copy of the Growing Hepaticas leaflet written by Lucie Rudnicka, who looks after the plants, and you can find out more on hepaticas and see more pictures on the Ashwood Nurseries website.

UPDATE The RHS has a new hepatica collection available to British Gardeners - click here for details.

A wonderful catalogue from Arrowhead Alpines

Arrowheadcover2007500_2 I’ve never ordered from Michigan’s Arrowhead Alpines, but if their plants are as good as their extraordinary catalog it’s clear that I should.

This is a very – how shall I put it – individualistic catalog. After all, few alpine nurseries would fill their front cover with the huge blue cones of a Korean fir hybrid (Abies koreana x A. lasiocarpa, no less).

Bob Stewart’s introductory essay rattles along on the subjects of why we garden, why Britney Spears wears no panties, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, North Korean missiles, creating antimatter pairs with lasers, gene splicing, and so on.

There follows a hundred densely printed pages packed to bursting with good plants, many wondrous rarities and many more familiar. There are conifers, shrubs, vines, perennials, wild flowers, bulbs and, of course alpines. You could spend thousands. But it’s not just the extraordinary collection of plants that make this catalog special, there are, I should mention, no pictures except on the cover. It’s the way Bob describes them: On the rarely seen Smilacina bicolor, the quotes the Google translation from the Korean: “The beard root to the genitals is born from the joint”, “both sides flow in lower part and becoming the short leaf sack”, and his favorite: “the flower stalk comes out from the armpit of the gun.” (Fortunately, there’s a picture here for those not sufficiently convinced by this description.)

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