Small but perfectly formed

You would think as my eye sight was diminishing and I seem to wear my reading glasses on an almost permanent basis these days that becoming interested in alpines wouldn’t be an obvious new direction – but I rarely choose to do the expected.

These things inevitably happen in an unexpected way and my new curiosity was caused by a conversation on Twitter.  There are a number of nurserymen and plantaholics on there and many a late night conversation about the more unusual plants.  One evening for some reason I can’t remember seed distribution schemes came up and the Alpine Garden Society was mentioned.  I had never heard of them.  My twitter companions told me that in their opinion the AGS Journal was excellent and well worth the subscription.

Needless to say being of an enquiring mind I had a mooch on the internet at the AGS website and managed to download an old copy of the Journal.  It was fascinating reading.  A little ‘technical’ for  my knowledge in places but I want to learn more about plants so this was just what I had been looking for a while.  The subscription wasn’t much so I decided to join.  An information pack quickly arrived and I had access to the online forum.  Not quite in the same league as Twitter volume wise but still  very interesting if only to show me how limited my plant knowledge actually is!

Trachelium asperuloides

Trachelium asperuloides

My information pack told me that one of the AGS shows was going to be the next weekend in Tewkesbury not far from me so I decided to pluck up courage and have a look.  I’m getting better at going to these things on my own but still struggle to just wade in and start a conversation with people I don’t know.  I had a wander around the show discovering lots of new and fascinating plants.  I also discovered that my notion of alpines wasn’t necessarily correct.  In my head it was all rock gardens and tiny domes of plants but I learnt ‘alpine’ refers to plants growing in mountainous areas (I think?!) and includes ferns, various perennials and lovely things such as Meconopsis poppies and Arisema.   I had a chat with a nursery woman who pointed me in the right direction of true alpines to start off with and I bought a few.  The good thing about these alpines is that due to their size they are generally quite cheap and won’t take up much room in my increasingly full garden.

Calochortus clavatus var recurvifolius

Calochortus clavatus var recurvifolius

A further conversation on the AGS forum encouraged me to go to my local meeting which I duly did yesterday.  Luckily the nearest group meets just under 30 minutes away.  I turned up and was very warmly welcomed.  There were more plants for sale by various members, many who seemed to be nursery owners.  So much expertise to tap into.  Then we had a talk  by  Peter Cunnington formerly curator of the University of Liverpool  Botanic Garden.  His talk was on south-west China, its plants but also very interestingly how China had changed in the 20 odd years he had been visiting.  I learnt loads in an hour and half not only about the amazing range of plants but also about China and also about plants and alpines in general.  Peter is an excellent speaker, very funny and easy to listen to.

I came away from my first AGS meeting with a Primula x fosteri to nurture as part of my growing interest in Primulas, a large pot of Colchicums which I won in the raffle and a new enthusiasm and interest.


10 Comments on “Small but perfectly formed

  1. Gardening is so holistic it teaches us about little and large. Forgive the pun, you are opening your mind to difference., I too am becoming more acquainted to alpines but have not as yet joind the Society. I love your blog, I dont always comment but find myself nodding in agreement, keep it up…

  2. Yvonne – NZ How pretty – We have been on the highest point of our Great Barrier Island in the Gulf off Auckland and seen the most amazing tiny plants growing in the windiest extreme conditions. Also Mt Ruapehu – in the Central North Island – a still active volcano – covered in snow in winter. In the summer an incredible moonscape of huge volcanic rocks and very inhospitable to plants except the most hardy. Some amazing tiny exquisite alpines – fascinating! There is a long road to top (for skiers in winter) and then cable car even higher to the highest cafe in NZ – amazing views!

  3. How great to have another convert to alpines- and one with such a well-read blog!
    There’s nothing like an AGS show to let you know just how little you know! But I find most of the members so pleased to share their knowledge and love for the plants – and they’re often very generous with sharing there plants too!
    I hope you really enjoy your new interest.

  4. Lovely photos. I’ve always been a fan of alpines, in my Sussex garden I had a couple of scree beds and nearby was the famous Ingwersen’s nursery (closed now I believe).

  5. The neat domes of the pic at the top and the Trachelium are very pleasing somehow. If you want to find alpines in the wild (not for harvesting obviosly, just ooh-ing at) I understand Snowdon has some interesting species.

  6. Great photos, they all look so strokeable, though I am guessing that would be frowned on… Sounds as if you have discovered rather a good new interest, and potentially a new community of gardeners to learn from and interact with. An alpine area in your new seating area?

  7. Nice! Your greenhouse must bring a lot of happiness to you as well as the plants that stay there. I have never had a greenhouse, but if I did I would hope to keep it as neat and clean as yours.

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