Stunning alpines

Dionysia 'Tess'
Dionysia ‘Tess’

On Easter Monday I popped along to the local Alpine Garden Society’s plant show.  This was an annual show organised by the group I go to and not part of the national circuit but the standard of entries were still very high and I think many are entered into the national shows.  Above is Dionysia ‘Tess’, this is a plant I have only discovered since I joined the Alpine Garden Society and apparently it is very hard to grow to the standard above.  It needs to be grown in an alpine house and the growers that exhibit turn them every 4 hours, or so I am told, in order to get such a uniform flowering across the plant.  I did like this Dionysia but generally the cushion plants, as they are called, don’t appeal to me; they are too perfect, too neat – I prefer my plants to look more natural!

An entry of 3 pans of Dioynsia
An entry of 3 pans of Dioynsia
Ipheion dialystemon
Ipheion dialystemon

My attention was taken more with the bulbs which given the time of year were much in evidence.  I particularly liked the crocus I showed in my wordless Wednesday post but found the markings on this Ipheoin quite striking.

Asplenium fontanum
Asplenium fontanum

I have learnt two major things since I joined the Alpine Garden Society last year.  Firstly, that there are masses of plants out there that I have never heard of and secondly, and more importantly, alpine plants are not all the cushion plants shown above.  Ferns are alpines, as are Peonies, Lupins, Delphinium, Aquilegia, Azaleas, Rhododendrons – in fact anything which grows in mountainous conditions but that doesn’t have to be dry mountainous  conditions and it includes lots of the woodland plants I love.  So my new interest in ferns and my continuing and growing passion for Primula are well fed.

Primula marginata 'Dwarf Form'
Primula marginata ‘Dwarf Form’

Being the end of March there were certainly lots of Primulas on show.  I was annoyed with myself for not having more courage and entering my Primula marginata into the novice section as the one I have is rather good although not as large as the one above.  In fact the entries in the Novice section, whilst good have made me think that I could have a go.  So I have set myself a goal of having something to enter into the show in a year’s time.  I am covering my bets and have ordered a range of miniature bulbs which I will grow on in pots in the hope of being able to enter them as well as my primulas.  I have also decided to start of with specialising in Primula marginatas; there are so many different Primulas that I needed some sort of focus. This meant that I came home with another two in my bag.

2013_04010069

Who knows in 20 years time I might be able to achieve prize-winning Primula allionii like the ones above.

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21 Comments Add yours

  1. kininvie says:

    Hi Helen, I love tracking your primula journey, though I’ve taken a different path from you and gone down the Asiatic route. Good luck with the marginata!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi kininvie
      I have all sorts of primulas including asiatics but I have decided on trying to grow really good marginata for my first attempt at showing next year. My garden gets quite damp in places so the asiatics work better in the garden.

  2. I love the information and photos you shared…this sets me on a whole new path. This will require more research and of course the purchase of more plants.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      You should look at the North American Rock Garden Society and also the Scottish Rock Garden Society websites as they have lots of information. The Scottish one has an excellent forum which people contribute from all over the world and y ou dont have to be a member.

  3. Those alpines are stunning! It certainly makes me want to investigate different varieties of the plants.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Paula
      Yes its a whole other world which overlaps with the plants I have grown for years but also introduces me to lots of amazing other plants

  4. Pauline says:

    They all look so neat and tidy, like you , I like my plants to be more natural. Having such wet clay soil, I, like Kininvie have planted the asiatic primulas, we all have to go with the conditions we have in the garden!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      I have asiatic primulas as well in the garden, plus some auriculas and I have just sown some barnhaven primulas. The marginata are purely for showing – well thats the aim!

  5. Cathy Thompson says:

    Pictures very inspiring Helen, wish I could grow the primulas too.

  6. I enjoy reading about your experiences with Alpine Plants, I think I’m on the same journey as you, but you appear to have a much more lively and established local Alpine Group in your area, it was unfortunate that several of my local club meetings have been cancelled this year so far due to icy conditions and I was gutted when the big Spring show was cancelled due to a gas leak at the venue.

    I know what you mean about plucking up courage to enter some plants into a show, I made a lot of notes and took lots of photos at my local Autumn Show novice section last year and hope to enter one or two plants.
    I thing that I have come up against, and I don’t know if you’ve found the same, is what plants are suitable for each category, ferns & conifers are straight forward, but others categories appear more complicated.
    I’d be interested if anybody at your local groups has an easy way of answering that one.

    All the best, June.

  7. Reblogged this on The Cynical Gardener and commented:
    A great blog by Helen.

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    So pretty – there are many beautiful mountain plants in NZ also. We saw some amazing tiny ones on Mt Ruapehu when we were up there one summer. Quite exquisite!

  9. Enjoyed this post. I have a great interest in rock gardens and the perfect spot in my new location to attempt one. Like the rest of the garden, it is shady, and I have much to learn (and ponder) before I begin. Love the P. marginata. Your last line gave me a chuckle (aim for the top but be humble about it). The brash American would be plotting to take top prize in the next show. Shame on us:^)

  10. Cathy says:

    Turning pots every 4 hours? Beyond the call of duty, I would say – but perhaps they could improvise and put the pots on an old record turntable?! 😉 Some little beauties, Helen, but I am pleased you are taking courage and planning your own entries for next year – it’s good to have that to aim for.

  11. Good luck with your entries! I admire your spirit. I don’t think I would ever have the discipline it would take to nurture one particular plant (or a few) to be worthy of a show. I love the primulas and will have to investigate these further. Thanks for the tip to Charlie@SeattleTrekker re: N. American Rock Gdn. Society; I will head over there as well.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi MHM
      Oh dont be impressed I havent done it yet. Am also looking seriously at entering plants into the local gardening show in May, pouring over schedule to see if I can find 3 things to enter

  12. hillwards says:

    Sounds like a lovely environment in which to continue to explore some of your favourite plants – and find new ones. The P. marginata is very pretty, and new to me: I look forward to learning more about them from you!

  13. Helen I know nothing about alpine plants and I was thrilled to see these and learn many of my favs are also alpine plants…looking forward to learning more.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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